Andrew Gaeddert, Herbalist and founder of Health Concerns, originally became involved in herbal medicine after conventional medicine failed to help his symptoms of Crohn's disease, a life-threatening digestive disorder. Through years of research, experimentation, and self-treatment with herbal medicine, Andrew Gaeddert was able to successfully treat his condition and regain his good health. Since then, he has helped thousands of people heal with herbal medicine through his private practice. He has authored numerous articles and books: Healing Immune Disorders, Healing Digestive Disorders, Healing Skin Disorders, Digestive Health NOW, and Chinese Herbs in the Western Clinic.
Andrew Gaeddert is dedicated to the concept of lifelong education. He has studied with master herbalists from the U.S. and China and lectured at Columbia University and many other colleges nationwide. He has worked with other herbalists to develop clinically tested formulas to help people with AIDS, cancer, and other chronic diseases, and served on the protocol teams of several scientific studies on herbal medicine. Currently he is involved in endometriosis research. In 1984, Andrew Gaeddert founded Health Concerns, a company dedicated to providing the finest, most effective herbal formulas and educational resources to herbal practitioners.
Read Andrew’s inspiring personal story below, excerpted and adapted from his book Healing Digestive Disorders.
My Personal Story
When I was 19, I almost died of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disorder of the intestines. I had eaten at a restaurant where it seems I contracted food poisoning. Shortly after the meal my main symptoms were abdominal cramping, fever, and diarrhea. When I did not feel better after two days, I went to the health clinic at the university I attended. I was prescribed Valium, a sedative, and told to take hot baths and Tylenol. Even several days on this regimen proved ineffective, and by this time I felt very weak…After a few more days of terrible shooting abdominal pains, diarrhea, fever, inability to keep food down, and weakness, I was finally admitted to the hospital. After innumerable tests it was finally pronounced that I was suspected of having Crohn’s disease. The next month I spent at home recuperating, eating a limited- fiber diet, and taking vitamins and antibiotics.
My parents had always said that I was “the kid with the cast-iron stomach.” They felt they were getting their money’s worth whenever they took me to an all-you-can-eat restaurant, since I was very active and could put away great quantities of food. As a teenager, I became aware of a sensitivity to spaghetti, another one of my favorite foods. Sometimes I could eat spaghetti with tomato sauce and not have any symptoms, while other times I got gas pains. It was not until I was in college that I realized I had chronic digestive symptoms. Looking back, it is easy to diagnose the sources of my problems: stress, lack of exercise, and the college cafeteria.
Finally, another contributing factor to my digestive problems was that I continued to drink milk. I now believe that humans should stop drinking milk at age eighteen or younger (see “Lactose Intolerance” section, Chapter Four). Anyone with a digestive condition should stop regardless of age.
In the year before my admission to the hospital, I had gotten sick more than usual and had taken several courses of antibiotics. Antibiotics destroy the friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract as well as the disease-causing ones. The resulting imbalance may have been another contributing cause of my symptoms.
After graduating from college, I went to live in San Francisco. One of my jobs was selling an ancient Tibetan herbal remedy to health food stores and alternative doctors. The remedy had been studied in clinical trials in Europe, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not approved it for sale in the U.S. This exposure to alternative medicines opened up a new world to me. I also began to learn about Chinese herbs. I tried them during the periods when I had flare-ups.
These experiences lead me to study all I could about herbal medicine. I developed a passion for Chinese herbs, introducing doctors, health food stores and individuals to herbal medicine. Testimonials from doctors and herbalists, whose patients used these products, began coming into the office where I worked. After this experience, I decided to start my own company manufacturing Chinese and Western herbal products, slowly adding more and more formulas to my line.
I kept my goal in mind: to help the millions of people who have digestive, gynecological, and immune disorders by publicizing, researching, and writing about the benefits of herbal medicine. The herbal formulas that I have developed have now been successfully used by thousands of digestive patients. Several of the formulas have been researched at prestigious universities such as the University of California, San Francisco.
Fortunately, in the last ten years, herbal medicines have moved from the health food fringe movement into the aisles of major drug store chains. Consumers and even medical professionals are now more open to their use. When I went to my ear, nose, and throat doctor even she extolled the benefits of two popular herbs, echinacea and ginkgo!
Many people ask me about the current state of my Crohn’s disease. In the past ten years I have had only one serious flare-up. I quickly resolve any abdominal bloating or intestinal gas I experience by being more careful about what I eat and by taking herbal remedies. I also have come to understand that antioxidant vitamins and folic acid have a preventive effect on inflammatory mechanisms. I take these on a daily basis. In order to avoid antibiotics, which for me cause an exacerbation of digestive symptoms, I treat any cold or flu with herbs. Finally, I remain committed to exercise, daily meditation, and my mission of helping people with digestive and other disorders.