Natural Herbal Remedies:
Supplements and Herbal Healing
Herbal remedies are probably
mankind's oldest medicine. The history of herbal healing stretches back at
least 5,000 years in Western culture. The history of herbal healing worldwide
is likely far older: All cultures possess herbal remedies based on the herbs
and plants in their geographic area.
While herbal healing and
herbal supplements are now considered alternative medicine, they were
considered standard practice for most of medical history.
Herbal Healing in North
Herbal remedies enjoyed a long
history in North America, but were replaced by pharmaceuticals in both the
United States and Canada over the last century. In recent years, public
interest in herbal healing has renewed, with more people exploring herbs and
supplements as alternatives to conventional medicine.
A number of reasons account
for the revival of herbal remedies in North America. An interest in natural
healing has blossomed in recent years in response to the side effects of many
pharmaceuticals. Herbal supplements generally have fewer side effects and less
toxicity than pharmaceuticals.
Furthermore, many herbs,
unlike most conventional medicines, can be taken as preventive medicine,
guarding against illness rather than treating the illness. There is also the
unavoidable fact that herbal remedies cost less than most pharmaceuticals.
Who Shouldn't Use Herbal
Herbal supplements are not
advised for children, as herbal dosages and safety vary with age. Pregnant
women should also avoid herbal remedies, as some herbs can have adverse effects
on fetal development. Even breastfeeding mothers should avoid using herbal
remedies until their baby is weaned.
If you live with any of the
following conditions, please consult with a medical professional before using
any herbal remedies or supplements:
At least one week before any
surgery, including dental surgery, stop all herbal supplements. Certain herbs
can interfere with anesthesia and blood coagulation.
Herbal Healing and Remedies
for Common Complaints
Herbal remedies are
available for a long list of health conditions. In some cases, the claims of
herbal remedies have been proven by medical science. Other herbs' healing
properties have not been scientifically validated, but are supported by a
history of anecdotal evidence and tradition. Remember: Like any other healing
therapy, no herb is completely safe. If you have any doubts, consult a medical
professional or professional herbalist.
Evening primrose oil
Essential fatty acids in
flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil thin the sebum that causes acne.
Peppermint tea or several
drops of peppermint oil on the tongue freshens breath, as does chewing a
sprig of parsley.
Echinacea and goldenseal
boost the immune system and reduce cold symptoms. Goldenseal tea also
relieves sore throats.
Dong quoi and ginseng are
used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fatigue.
Flaxseed oil is high in
fatty amino acids, which the body requires for proper functioning.
Ginger relaxes the
digestive tract, lowering the chance of flatulence.
Chamomile and valerian
both possess sedating and muscle-relaxing properties.
Peppermint tea has a
soothing effect on the stomach's mucus lining.
Ginger relieves nausea
without the drowsiness of anti-nausea medications.
Safety of Herbal Remedies
Herbal remedies are
generally gentler on the body than pharmaceuticals, but some cautions must be
taken when using herbs and other botanicals. "Natural" should not be
confused with "safe." Many of today's more potent pharmaceuticals
were derived from herbs or herbal remedies. Aspirin, for example, was developed
from compounds in willow bark.
self-medicating with herbs is not advisable if a health condition is serious or
fast-acting. A rapidly developing bacterial infection such as pneumonia, for
instance, responds to treatment much faster with standard antibiotics than with
herbal remedies. Herbal healing takes time to affect health and some health
complications require much faster treatment.
Herbs and herbal supplements
can cause unwanted side effects, especially when supplements are taken in large
amounts. Examples include:
John's Wort: Can cause dizziness, confusion,
tiredness, upset stomach, tiredness, dry mouth and photosensitivity.
(Ma Huang): Known to cause hypertension, irregular
heartbeat, insomnia, headaches, strokes and heart attacks.
May cause tiredness, skin rashes, unusual mouth or tongue movement, and
May cause indigestion and other stomach problems (instead of supplements
try incorporating natural turmeric-curry-into your cooking).
High doses can result in insomnia, headaches, skin rashes, upset stomach,
breast tenderness, anxiety, and increased menstrual bleeding.
While some of the side
effects listed above are severe, it should be noted that many conventional
medications have possible side effects just as severe as those associated with
some herbs. If in doubt as to the safety of an herb, consult either your doctor
or a professional herbalist.
Herbs and Drug Interactions
Certain herbs and herbal
supplements can cause adverse reactions when mixed with pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo
biloba, for instance, interferes with aspirin's anticoagulant properties, and
should not be taken with any anticoagulant medication. St. John's Wort, while
often used to treat mild depression, should not be taken with prescription
antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. Treat all herbs with respect, and
be sure to let your doctor know which herbal supplements you plan on using,
especially if you already take medication.
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*Disclaimer: None of the above statements
have been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease. As always, consult your physician before
taking any and all supplements. LifeSource Vitamins. Individual results may
Disclaimer: All the
information contained throughout this website is based upon the opinion of the
founder of LifeSource Vitamins, Bruce Brightman, and the entire team at
LifeSource Vitamins whose relentless research and studies have been ongoing on
since 1992. Other articles and
information are based on the opinions of the authors, who retains the copyright
as marked on the article. The
information on this site is not intended to replace your health care
professional, but to enhance your relationship with them. Doing your own studying and research and
taking your health care into your own hands is always best, especially in
partnership with your health care professional.
If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or have any medical
conditions, always consult your health care professional before taking
supplements based on the information on this site.