Learn About Pros And Cons Of Herbal Medicine

For centuries, our ancestor’s medical needs were taken care
of with local plants. These herbal remedy pros knew just what root, leaf, or
flower to use for almost any complaint. Modern pharmaceuticals have much to
recommend but contain harmful and habit-forming chemicals and compounds.
Wouldn’t it be better to harvest the benefits of medicinal herbs where possible
and reduce exposure to toxins for you and your family?

Herbal Remedy Pros

(Bonnie’s viewpoint) Nature’s bounty offers us not only food,
shelter and materials but a helping hand in the health department. Botanical
medicines are known to be effective for:

  • cardiovascular disease
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • circulation
  • hormone regulation
  • liver and kidney functions
  • urinary tract health
  • reproductive functions
  • skin, bone and muscle health
  • boosting the immune system

They offer numerous
health benefits
. In addition to helping specific medical complaints, like
those above, plant medicines offer phytonutrients and antioxidants. Other
herbal remedy pros include potential anti-coagulant, anti-fungal,
anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Many are proven
effective
. There are many studies available to prove effectiveness of
certain herbal medicines; however, due to the variation in wild plants and in
test subjects, the conclusions usually vary. In most cases, herbal remedies
cause less chance of side effects and toxic build up when used correctly.

They’re easy to grow
for free
. Many of the most commonly used botanicals can be easily grown
in your backyard or in containers
. That means they are practically
free which is a far cry from most pharmaceutical costs. Tinctures, teas and
ointments are quite easy to prepare, even for a novice.

Most are readily
available
. Herbal medicines are easy to find in health food stores.
Contrary to popular opinion, herbals are regulated. The Dietary Supplement
Health and Education Act was set up so the FDA could regulate finished herbal
products and monitor proper labeling and packaging.

Problems with Herbal Remedies

(Mary Ellen’s viewpoint) While there are many people who have
benefitted from herbal remedies, there is no guarantee that these products or
plants will be safe or even effective. Some of the problems with herbal
remedies include lack of regulation, poisoning, no dosing recommendations, and
specific, potentially serious health problems:

No regulation.
Herbal supplements and other products are not regulated in the U.S. This means
that claims made by manufacturers regarding safety and efficacy have not been evaluated
and cannot necessarily be trusted. You also cannot rely on adequate quality
control for these products, meaning contamination, purity, and concentration
may be issues.

No dosing.
Supplements may come with dosing recommendations, but these have also not been
evaluated. There is a real risk with herbals, both from store-brought
supplements and homemade remedies, that you will take too much and suffer from
toxic effects.

Poisoning. For
people who harvest and use their own herbals, there is a very real risk of
poisoning. You must be very knowledgeable about what you are growing or
foraging to avoid using something that is actually toxic and that could poison
you.

Drug interactions.
Doctors should always ask their patients what supplements or herbs they use
because dangerous interactions with medications are common. For instance, saw
palmetto, a common herbal used to try to treat prostate cancer magnifies the
effects of warfarin, a blood thinner. This can lead to dangerous bleeding.

Better treatment from
medicine
. Among the dangers of medicinal herbs, one that is not so obvious
is that use of these can prevent someone from getting better results from
medical care. Again, saw palmetto is sometimes used to try to treat prostate
cancer, but research has not found it to be effective. A patient may be risking
his life using this herb instead of getting real medical treatment.

Knowing the Dangers of Medicinal Herbs Beforehand is Important

Among the many cons of herbal medicine, health risks are the
most important. Many people assume that something natural from a plant will be
safe, but this is not always the case. Herbal remedies, supplements, and
botanical medicines may have some important benefits, but there are some
serious risks to using these so-called natural substances. Unless you really
know your stuff, you could be risking your health and well-being by relying on
herbals.

How to Use Herbal Medicines Safely

There have been some cases where herbal concoctions caused
potentially dangerous interactions with prescribed drugs, so it is wise to
consult your doctor before using natural medications. The benefits of medicinal
herbs are best used under a professional’s care, whether a traditional Western
doctor or a licensed herbalist. Only use preparations from companies with solid
reputations and that have been approved by the FDA.

If you are wild foraging to make your own supplements, obey
local law and property rights, educate yourself, and only harvest what you can
use. Home gardeners can enjoy many herbal remedy pros by simply growing a culinary
herb garden
. Homemade teas and using herbs in cooking can still
harness herbal medicine positives without worrying about chemicals and drug
costs.

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