An Introduction to Herbal Health Care
With the rising costs of prescription medicine costs today, and the increasing number of reports about severe side effects and dangers that come with prescription drugs, many people are now looking for alternatives. And thankfully there are many.
Alternative and herbal medicine has been around for centuries. In fact, there have been numerous cases of evidence showing that herbal medicine has been in use as far back as the Neanderthal period some 60,000 years ago. Other evidence of using herbs for medicine have appeared in cave paintings that are estimated to have been made between 13,000 and 25,000 BC. Most of our modern day synthetic prescription drugs have been based on natural substances and capabilities found in plants.
Now, many people argue that herbal remedies and medicines are not valid, because there have not been enough scientific studies performed to prove or disprove claims. Herbalists, people who specialize in herbal medicine, feel that a lot of the attempts to discredit herbal remedies and cures are brought on primarily due to money.
Pharmaceutical companies are not able to patent a natural medication, so the wide spread use of these herbal remedies would essentially put them out of business. Since they would be unable to corner a market and charge outrageous amounts of money for prescription only medications if herbs were too widely used, they must create synthetic versions in order to remain in profit. And they must discredit herbs for use in various medical treatments, in order to keep people buying their prescription medications instead.
There is also a problem with consumers misunderstanding how to use herbs, or not having enough knowledge about what is good or bad for you. Some people believe for instance, that as long as something is “natural”, then it must be safe to use. This is far from the truth. Many things found in nature are quite poisonous. Rhubarb plants for example, will give us nutritious vegetables to eat. But if you try to use the leaves from that plant for either food or medicine, you can go into convulsions and possibly die.
There are also medicinal herbs that can cause problems with certain people. Golden Seal for instance, is a very powerful natural antibiotic herb. But it’s also a natural source of insulin, so it can cause severe problems if taken by a hypoglycemic: Someone who has low blood sugar.
Herbs can have interactions with other herbs or prescription medications too, and many people don’t seem to realize this. Taking an herb that boosts your energy for instance, such as ephedra or Ginsing, will do just that. If however, you take large amounts of these herbs, you risk having heart palpitations. And if you take these herbs with consuming large amounts of caffeine – such as drinking regular sodas, coffee or tea – you also risk having heart palpitations. And heart palpitations can lead to more severe emergencies such as a heart attack.
Overall, it’s more common to see a lot of news coverage when someone has problems using herbs and natural remedies. In truth however, when you dig into the facts a bit deeper, there are far more cases of severe health problems and side effects with “approved” prescription drugs than there are with alternative herbal remedies. And as the general public continues to become more educated on these topics, herbal health care practices will continue to grow astronomically.
“The How To Herb Book”, Mayfield Publications
Statements made in this article may not be approved by the FDA, and should not be taken as professional medical advice.