We as Americans are re-discovering the powerful century-old therapeutic uses of herbs. While there are many types of herbs both for edible and medicinal purposes, many people are a bit confused as to which herbs do what, when and how to take them, potential side effects and other safety issues. There is a lot of conflicting information about herbs. Many tout them as a “cure-all” from everything from cancer, liver problems, to acne.
Faced with this dilemma of where to find sound advice on herbs, we continually garner information from top experts in the field and pass that information on to you so that you can be properly informed and use that information to make Intelligent, wise choices.
About Doctors and Pharmacists
Why not ask a doctor or pharmacist? The sad truth is that most physicians and pharmacists are uneducated about and often biased against herbs. Although herbs have been used for centuries for their healing properties, since the rise of the pharmaceutical industry they have been somewhat branded as “old and out of date” remedies. Most of this is propaganda used to promote expensive drugs (which are often derivatives from herbs) for which they hold the patent rights. It is harder to profit from herbs since no one can own a patent on an herb. So, if you consult a pharmacist or physician, make sure you know if they have a background in herbs.
What you Should Know About Herbs
Potentially, herbs can tremendously improve your health. However, it is essential to follow a few guidelines. When selecting an herb, choose a product that contains adequate amounts of the herb as well as its active constituents.
- Take it correctly. Herbs have pharmacological effects. Many people think that because it is an herb, they are safe from any side effects. So be certain to follow directions about proper dosage, and if you are on any other medications, be sure to consult a qualified physician about possible conflicts or side effects. Some herbs are fine to take every day while others should only be taken on an as needed or periodic basis.
- Choose quality herbs. Herbs can come in many different forms. The basic or raw form of herbs is as they occur in nature, such as leaves, cloves, or root. These can be processed into powders, tablets, or capsules. Teas can also be made by steeping bulk herbs in boiling water. (Also known as infusions) Extracts are concentrated forms of herbs. If you are planning to use herbs therapeutically, extracts are the best. Extracts come in three forms–fluid extracts, solid extracts and tinctures.
- Whenever possible choose cultivated, organic herbs. Wild crafting is the practice of collecting herbs from their natural environment. While it may seem that this is the preferable to cultivated herbs, one cannot be certain of the quality or contamination of wild herbs. It has also led to the near extinction of certain herbs as well as damaging the ecosystems like rainforests. Choose cultivated herbs whenever possible. These have been screened from harmful effects of pesticides.