This article comes from Dr. Morse’s Herbal Health Club. Link to source below. It discusses the perception of why some herbs are toxic and what this means in the reality of nature. Take note of the way in which it mentions “isolates” which emphasises the point that the “whole” is that way for a reason.
There have been a lot of inquiries and concerns lately about herb toxicity in general, and poke root specifically. We have decided to share an email response we sent to one individual with all of you to shed some light on the subject of “toxic herbs.” There are two factors to consider–one is the percentage/ratio of the herb and the other is the nature of herbs themselves.
Many of the so-called “toxic” herbs have deep actions, but they also have buffers that help protect the body. When you approach doses that are more than your body can handle, you’ll experience some sort of purging (usually nausea/vomiting, but can be other ways as well). This is the protective constituents of the herbs at work—they are forcing your body to purge so that you do not take in more than your body can handle. To someone looking at the situation superficially and not understanding how herbs work, this appears to be the herb poisoning you, because it made you vomit (so obviously it can’t be good for you!). But remember, a purgative effect is not always a bad thing! Lobelia is one such misunderstood herb…while it can be considered toxic when taken in large doses, if you’re taking the whole herb you will ALWAYS vomit before you can ingest enough to poison yourself. In every single case of a “scientific” study showing that an herb is toxic or causes organ damage, the whole herb itself was not used. Instead they used isolates of specific parts of the herb—the problem with this practice is that when you isolate certain substances the protective constituents are stripped off. When using whole herbs (and our formulas are 100% whole herbs, never isolated constituents) the protective buffers are left intact and the herbs function the way they are meant to.
The second factor is the percentage/ratio, this comes into play if you’re taking a formula as opposed to the single herb. In combination formulas like ours, there are many herbs mixed together for their synergistic effects. So when you look at a formula where poke root, for example, is one of 10 ingredients…the poke root is likely something like 1/10th of the formula. Our formula ratios are proprietary and cannot be disclosed, but I can tell you that poke root specifically is anywhere between 5-15% of the herbs used, depending on the formula. But it is never more than 15%. So especially with a combination formula, the odds of ingesting enough poke root (or any other supposedly “toxic” herb) to do any “harm” to the body or constitute an “overdose” or “too much” is all but impossible. Additionally, when combined the herbs have a synergistic effect—meaning they work together to produce a result where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This extends to the protective nature of the herbs as well, so those protective buffers increase exponentially in combination formulas as well.
So while the choice is always yours and you should never take something that concerns you or makes you uncomfortable, we hope this sheds some light on how the herbs/formulas function and gives everyone some peace of mind.