Introduction to Regenerative Health

Posted: January 1st, 2021

- Richard, the Farm Doc

Plants, for the most part, unlike animals, are not mobile.  They cannot run from danger, or toward potential mates.  As a consequence, they have to depend on molecules they produce (phytochemicals) to adjust to their environment, communicate and interact with other plants and animals, and defend themselves.1,2,3  We are coming to understand that healthy, living soil is essential for healthy plants to produce the full range of beneficial phytochemicals that contribute to human health. 

Animals, including humans, have evolved eating plants (or other animals that eat plants), and have been exposed to these phytochemicals or their metabolites, using them for their own benefits (or being harmed and learning to avoid plants that produce harmful phytochemicals).  There have been around 25,000 phytochemicals discovered to date.1  

This connection between healthy soil, healthy plants, and healthy humans is what I refer to as Regenerative Health, and will be the focus of my blog posts. 

Plant Phytochemicals in Western Medicine

Many drugs used in Western Medicine were first identified in plants or molds.  Well known examples are salicylic acid first identified in willow bark (which I address in our January 2021 newsletter), morphine from the opium poppy, penicillin from penicillium rubens mold, and paclitaxel (Taxol) from the bark of the Pacific yew tree.  However, the use of plants as a primary source of potential therapies diminished with the adoption of the “Single Molecule, Single Target, Single Drug” pharmacotherapy model. 

Western Medicine’s Single Molecule, Single Target, Single Drug model

For the past several decades, the predominant pharmacological therapy model used in Western medicine has been the Single Molecule, Single Target, Single Drug model.  This model has been a significant contributor to improvements in treating many common diseases including hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and many cancers.  

However, there are significant costs and limitations to this approach: most diseases are multifactorial in their cause and effect; effective treatment often requires using multiple increasingly more costly “single drugs” to address multiple targets; drug/drug interactions increase, with their associated morbidity and mortality; critical contributors to health and disease, such as environmental factors and social determinants of health often become secondary instead of primary considerations as attention focuses on finding the right pill(s).   

Network Pharmacology

Mapping of the human genome and rapidly increasing computing power has revealed the complex network of connections and interactions between our genes, proteins, receptors, microbiome, physical and social environment, and physiologic function, that can lead to disease.  This has led to a new approach to pharmacotherapy called network pharmacology, which takes these network connections and interactions into account to understand a disease state, and looks for combinations of molecules and other interventions that interact in ways that can more effectively treat disease and re-establish health, with fewer negative side effects.  Interestingly, but not surprising for practitioners, one especially productive line of research is plant based therapies from traditional/naturopathic medical disciplines.4,5,6 

The Entourage Effect and Network Pharmacology

The Entourage Effect is the idea that the effects cannabinoids like CBD have on the body are potentiated by the full set of phytochemicals produced by Cannabis Sativa, including a wide range of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.   While not conclusive, evidence is accumulating that the Entourage Effect is real.  Network Pharmacology is ideally suited to test this hypothesis.7,8,9 


In upcoming Newsletters and Blogs, I will explore Regenerative Health topics such as the foundational importance of healthy soil to plant and human health; the entourage effect; the endocannabinoid receptor system in humans; the multiple receptors CBD interacts with in the human body; the social determinants of health; and related topics, in more detail.   I hope you will join me on the journey.




  1. Phytochemical


  3. Semi-Technical Plant Communication: How Plants Learned to Talk

Peer Reviewed Scientific Articles:

  1. Network Pharmacology

  2. From single drug targets to synergistic network pharmacology in ischemic stroke

  3. Systems Pharmacology Approach to Investigate the Mechanism of Kai-Xin-San in Alzheimer’s Disease

  4. Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol

  5. Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis

  6. Cannabis sativa L. as a Natural Drug Meeting the Criteria of a Multitarget Approach to Treatment

Learn more about Richard

Richard "The Farm Doc" is a Family Physician, committed to providing science based information to help people make informed decisions about their health, and to understand the connection between their health and the health of our soil, plants, and planet.

Full bio here.

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