Let’s start with natural remedies. Before the advent of drugs, the ancient healers relied on the healing power of mother nature. Through testing over eons, people experimented with plants. Animals might have played a key role in prehistoric humans. When an animal was sick, the human might notice it eating plants that were typically ignored and remembering what this plant might cure. For example, foul odors were corrected with fragrant plants, and food was preserved with potent antimicrobial compounds in some plants. Natural products and remedies were all our ancestors had to cure disease and create predictable actions. For example, tea from the stalks of ma huang (Chinese ephedra) is a decongestant and the oldest cold medicine, several thousand years old.
By the 1950s, American homeopathy was about dead but in recent years has had a revival. Scientific trials have proven that homeopathic solutions, most of them herbal, work effectively and can provide significant benefits. Many doctors recommend herbal remedies, and many stores sell herbal supplements. Herbs have fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs. The herbal solution treats the complete body while the medicine treats the symptom.
What about the FDA? Unfortunately, the FDA has been slow to regulate this industry; thus, labels are currently prohibited from stating benefits, side effects, and dosage for almost all herbal medicines, hence the confusion. Therefore, it is essential to ask a medical professional about the proper herbs to use and let your doctor know which ones you take.
The critical question, Are herbs safe? Medicinal plants contain active compounds that affect the body. While these compounds are natural, they can heal, but also there is a potential to have side effects and reactions. Overall, herbs are safer than drugs, but they can still cause problems. You must study the herbs that you take and administer the correct dosages. In general, despite occasional issues, herbal treatments do not pose any significant hazard. Always check with a medical professional for questions.
Although herbal medicine is not tightly regulated, it has been used for a millennium and withstood the test of time. Below are some suggestions on how to use herbs safely.
-Make sure the herb is identified correctly by genus and species. You can be more confident that you are getting the herb you are looking for.
-Follow the label on the bottle strictly for dosage. Although an herb, it contains chemicals that must be regulated.
-Listen to your body. If an herb disagrees with your system, stop taking it and consult a physician.
-Before you take any herb, read up on it. Learn about what the herb is curing, the side effects, and any warnings on the bottle.
-Some herbs may trigger Anaphylaxis. Although rare, if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, call medical emergency immediately.
-Beware of any drug-herbal interaction. For example, if you are taking an antidepressant drug, do not use St. John’s wort without consulting a doctor.
-As we grow older, we get more sensitive to drugs. Start with a lower dose of the herbal treatment.
-When using herbal oils, use only topically. These are highly concentrated. Keep out of reach of children.
-You should have a physician as part of your medical team and keep them informed on what you are taking and why.
Today, herbs come in pills and capsules, which makes them easy to take. You can grow many of your herbs, such as peppermint, rosemary, and thyme. Fresh or dried, these are easy to grow. There are disadvantages to doing this. Perhaps you don’t have space, or maybe you don’t have the time to dry them. You can help the drying process by purchasing a small produce dryer to speed the process. Once the herbs are dry, you can pulverize them with a mortar and pestle or a grinder. Oxygen and light can quickly destroy your herbs. Store them in ceramic containers and fill them to the top to reduce space for air. Avoid any moisture and keep the jars sealed tight.
There are many other ways to use herbs, such as infusions, decoctions, tinctures, ointments, compresses, baths, and capsules. We will discuss all of this in future blogs.
Come and join the healthy revolution of herbal health.