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for their healing properties, since the rise of the pharmaceutical industry they have been somewhat branded as “old and out of date” remedies.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.
When it comes to the way we look, we often look for the
fastest possible cure. If we have an acne breakout, we reach for the strongest
spot treatments available. If we want to lose weight, we go on juice cleanses
and restrict eating. It comes as no surprise that, when used in excess, these
treatments can be detrimental to our overall health. Mainstream cosmetic
medicine has prioritized efficiency over health for decades – but it doesn’t
have to be this way.
Most common dermatologic disorders, the most-experienced
form of cosmetic dissatisfaction, have safe and effective herbal treatments
available. Reaching for an herb or naturally occurring ingredient will almost
always be safer than the cosmetic treatment that promises unrealistic results.
That said, some types of skin problems will require the help of a skin specialist or medical dermatologist.
Below, we’ve broken down several herb treatments for common skin problems, but
we’ve made sure to highlight exactly when you should see a medical professional
Acne typically responds very well to fruit acids, such as
citric, gluconic, gluconolactone, glycolic, malic, and tartaric acids. This is
broadly believed to be a result of the acids’ exfoliative properties. Natural
remedies, such as honey, most fruits, and some vegetables, can serve as
excellent spot treatments and cleansers for mild acne, such as whiteheads and
blackheads. Similarly, tannins have natural astringent properties, and they can
be used topically to treat acne. The most common naturally occurring natural
tannin is in witch hazel, which combines bark extract and water. Commercially
available preparations of this product are not as powerful, so try your hand at
Some forms of acne, however, should require a trip to the
dermatologist. Any skin lesions that are extremely painful, cystic, or unable
to be identified (i.e. they don’t look like acne) should be examined by
a licensed professional. Often, a quick skin check is all you need to get the
medicine and care necessary to clear the blemish.
Bacterial and Fungal Skin Infections
There are many natural remedies available for both bacterial
and fungal skin infections. Garlic, for example, contains ajoene, which has
demonstrated both antifungal and antibacterial activity when both ingested and
applied topically. While contact dermatitis has occasionally been reported with
frequent exposure, this potential side-effect is minimal. Similarly, tea tree
oil, when applied topically for treatment of fungal or bacterial infections,
has shown to combat a wide variety of microorganisms,
including Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, and Propionibacterium
acnes. It has shown symptom improvement in several double-blind studies,
but users should caution against using the material on burns.
Most people don’t typically need to visit a dermatologist
for typical fungal infections, but bacterial infections can cause a major
health risk. If you notice itchiness, swelling, or excessive redness on or near
your bacterial or fungal infection, make an appointment with your doctor.
Dermatitis is a condition that affects 16.5million
Americans each year, and it can appear for a variety of reasons. However,
certain herbal medicines are effective at treating the ubiquitous rash. For
example, arnica, which is derived from the dried flowers of Arnica montana,
has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory drug on sore muscles,
bruises, insect bites, boils, and acne eruptions. The ingredient is also found
in many seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis treatment preparations, indicating
that the medical community understands and respects its potential as a
German chamomile, a member of the daisy family, can also
lessen dermatitis symptoms when applied topically. Topical preparations
typically include a cream or ointment base, and studies have shown that topical
chamomile is comparable with 0.25% hydrocortisone, which is a common remedy for
Dermatitis does not typically require a dermatologist visit,
but if the rash is severe, painful, itchy, or bleeding/oozing, it’s safer to
make an appointment. You may be prescribed steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs
that will address the problem.
Psoriasis is a tricky dermatological condition because many
believe its cause is rooted in the immune system. Most psoriasis medicines aim
to decrease symptoms. Aloe vera has been used for centuries in wound healing
and was found to be a potential treatment for psoriasis. In a double-blind study, the
group of psoriasis patients treated with aloe showed a statistically
significant improvement over the placebo group, and there were no adverse
effects reported. Capsaicin has also been shown to alleviate some psoriasis
symptoms. The ingredient, which is found primarily in peppers, has been shown to
significantly decrease scaling and erythema when applied topically over a
If you have psoriasis, you should visit a medical
dermatologist. Without symptom management and medical mitigation, the condition
will only continue to get worse. While there is no cure for psoriasis,
medical-grade medicines are typically the best way forward if you have moderate
to severe outbreaks.
When the immune system in our body finds or realizes anything as foreign to the body, it immediately releases some antibodies like histamines to fight against the foreign substance. This causes inflammation which is called allergy in our body.
There are many natural remedies for allergies available. Although natural remedies are easily available without prescription, it is better to consult a doctor before to take up any medicine as a remedy for allergies.
When a person is taking natural remedies or any other medicines for allergies, it is better to concentrate on the environment in which they live. Avoid moist environments. Moist environments aid the growth of molds that are one of the causes of allergies. Cleanliness of the beds and the carpet plays an important role in treating allergies. Food restrictions also help in treating the allergies well. Certain types of foods should be avoided, and certain foods can be taken. A proper nutritional supplement to aid the treatment is also recommended.
Foods like wheat and chocolates cause allergy symptoms like headaches which can also be migraine in nature. Hay fever, hives, childhood allergies, asthma, and eczema are also caused by such foods. Garlic and Onion can be taken daily to treat allergies. It is found that these herbs contain Quercitin which is effective in curing allergies. This is found to reduce the production of histamine that causes allergies in us. Green tea extract which is rich in phytonutrients is used to ward off cellular attacks. It is an excellent anti-bacterial and is used to cut down the cholesterol level and to regulate the blood sugar.
Bromelain is used to assist in digestion of vegetable protein. Papain contains an enzyme that breaks down protein is effective in curing allergies. The acidic stage of the allergic reactions can be controlled effectively with Magnesium (Citrate). This is also used in treating asthma which has strong bonding with allergies. Calcium (Citrate) which balances the acid and the alkaline levels in our body is good in curing allergies. Calcium also reduces the production of histamine in our body.
Air filters and dehumidifiers can be used to prevent mold that is present in the humid environments. It is known that onions, garlic, and citrus fruits contain natural antihistamines. Having these would help you prevent and cure allergies. Natural nasal rinses are also available for treating allergies. Allergy can be controlled with the help for a proper diet. You have to note down the food items that are taken by you. Avoiding certain foods and taking some foods would help you in controlling the allergies.
Certain food supplements would also help in treating allergies positively. Natural antihistamines are taken to control allergy. You should know that the histamine released by our immune system is responsible for the allergic reaction. It is also better to know what leads to allergies. It is found that in babies the eating habits during the first year play an important role in a baby’s sensitivity to allergy. Lack of breast feeding and feeding babies with solid food too early may lead to such conditions.
What is HRT? It’s “Hormone Replacement Therapy”. This study may actually back the argument against medically administered HRT for menopausal women, among other findings which of course we will get into more I’m sure, as more studies are ongoing in the medical HRT field, as well as more startling findings that it may do more harm then good.
This particular study involved of about 7,290 women was a study of a substance called “raloxifene”, a so called “designer estrogen” which blocks that hormone’s action in some parts of the body, like a woman’s breasts, while increasing its effects in others, like bones.
This particular study’s main aim was testing raloxifene as a possible candidate for treatment of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, a use for which the drug ultimately won approval. Women with osteoporosis who were at least two years past menopause were randomly assigned to get raloxifene or dummy pills for four years.
The study’s researchers analyzed the female participant’s levels of a hormone called estradiol, which is the most potent form of estrogen that circulates within the blood.
The hormone Estradiol usually dramatically drops after menopause, and half of the 2,447 women given the inactive dummy pills had no perceivable levels of it. In the rest of the women, those with lower estradiol levels had a 70 percent lower risk of stroke than those with higher levels, the study’s sponsors had found.
The bottom line of this estrogen level study in women who are menopausal:
High estrogen levels can be exaggerated by the administration of medical estrogen pills, and in fact may increase a woman’s risk of stroke. This is quite an argument for natural HRT alternatives for women seeking to achieve a balanced estrogen level who are seeing a depletion in their estrogen due to the change of life.
The recent news story of football player Terrell Owens mixing a sports/nutrition supplement with his narcotic pain medication (to be exact, hydrocodone, a generic version of Vicodin), and getting dizzy and despondent, has put a new focus on mixing drugs and also even on mixing drugs with natural or herbal supplements. The mixing of any two drugs in itself can be dangerous.
Throw in the many supplements, vitamins and other various health tonics, tinctures and other remedies that people commonly use now, and you may just be welcoming disaster.
Another story about drug interaction which has caused due alarm is the story of Anna Nicole Smith’s son, Daniel Smith, who died of a lethal combination of several prescription drugs (albeit, heavy duty drugs).
These types of stories unfortunately are what’s needed to draw people’s attention to the possible dangers of drug and drug/supplement interactions that are possible when we pop too many pills all in the same day.
It is estimated that over 1 million people are affected by these dangerous drug interactions every year, and this can be avoided by simply asking your doctor or pharmacist about mixing drugs and/or supplements if you are not sure.
We might even start seeing different warning labels on prescription drug bottles in the future, given that so many people are on different supplements and vitamins now.
The history of herbal medicine and more natural methods of healing goes back much, much further than scientific medicine. For example, there were basically what we would in modern day call “doctors” who used only the fruits of the earth, meaning natural herbs and botanicals from which to create their medicines and experiment with what plants had healing powers and which ones could be poisonous.
Herbal medicine predates the age of Christ, and for good reason. It was all we had to work with until scientific studies of ways to manipulate chemicals and combine them came into play. Heck, the first real records of surgeries only came into play a few hundred years ago, which is just a drop in the bucket considering the time earth has been here.
Of course, there were primitive surgeries most likely performed dating back thousands of years, but without any knowledge of the human organs and what could be fatal. Chances are these surgeries many times resulted in death (take for example primitive C sections).
Now, over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to cultivate a newer, more broader understanding of what nature’s various plants can do for us. And the best thing is, we probably haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg, since there are numerous plants, deep within jungles and remote areas which probably have not even been studied and catalogued by botanists, let alone named and identified as being therapeutic in any way.
We’ll go into the history of herbal medicine a little more later, because there are so many hallmarks to this important method of healing and health support. There are simply too many timelines to go over, and marks of improvement to cover in just one post.
Is the first thought people with cancer have how they are going to decide to treat it, or do some people think more along the lines of natural treatment, instead of traditional medical treatments?
For me, I’ve already decided that if I ever do get cancer, I will not seek out the conventional medical cancer interventions and treatments that are the society standard today. I’ve decided I will seek a natural route, one that does not involve chemotherapy and the destruction of my healthy cells as well as cancer cells. I’ve decided I will seek a treatment that does not weaken me physically, but rather helps to empower and strengthen my body.
This decision has come to me over my lifetime, and personally seeing relatives suffer through this type of treatment, only to quickly deteriorate, and in my opinion, die a faster, more painful death than if they’d had not treatment at all. Dramatic statement, I know, but nonetheless, this is my opinion.
I do not know what natural therapy or lifestyle changes I would actually choose if I were in that position, but I do know this is how I would choose to fight my battle, and I would hope that with some prompted research, the natural choice would make itself apparent. This is my personal choice, and no one could change my mind.
Now, consider this. What if I were only 16 years old, and I had come to this same conclusion, with the added caveat that I had actually had chemotherapy and been severely debilitated by it once already? Does the government or a judge have the right to intervene and order medical treatment, which I do not believe in, and in fact, which I believe will actually kill me, if not dramatically jeopardize my quality of life?
That’s exactly what is transpiring right now for a 16 year old Virginia man (I say man, because this particular teen carries himself like an adult), with 2nd stage Hodgkins disease, a form of cancer that is very treatable the first time around, but upon recurrence, is less treatable and more deadly, requiring more drastic traditional chemotherapy and radiation.
Initially, the teen did undergo chemotherapy when the cancer was first discovered. He was weakened so badly, and in so much pain, that when his oncologist ordered a second round of more agressive chemo and radiation when the cancer returned, he refused and sought out an alternative cancer treatment called the Hoxsy method.
It is important to note that this natural, herbal method of cancer treatment, which is paired with a sugar free diet, has been banned by the FDA in the US, and he had to travel to Mexico in order to receive the daily herbs he had to take as well as intructions on how the treatment worked.
His parents advised the teen’s oncologist of their intentions for further alternative treatment, but said they’d like his continued medical monitoring. The oncologist felt this was neglect, and reported his parents to the authorities for investigation of medical neglect.
The case is now in court, and so far the judge has ordered the teen to undergo the chemotherapy treatments that he has so adamantly refused. I ask, how can you force someone who is obviously so against a certain medical treatment, to receive that treatment, regardless whether they are an “adult” as defined by today’s standards?
I can guarantee this teen has been forced to become much more mature than his biological years already through this ordeal, and is more than capable of making his own choices in his method of cancer treatment. Is this morally and ethically right? Or is it morally and ethically right to give him chemo, which many believe may actually save him while the alternative methods cannot possibly work?
I suppose it depends on your point of view, whether you are a believer in the pharmaceutical and medical industry or not. I for one have lost a lot of faith in the medical industry, and I believe that this choice should be left to the person it affects most. And that is, the one who has the cancer, the one who’s life has been so dramatically changed and nearly ruined by chemotherapy. Is it not up to the individual, or is this just a case of “the establishment” having their way?
I was reading about a new supplement for men’s prostate health that included the infamous saw palmetto. Saw palmetto has actually long been used to promote the health and functionality of the male prostate gland, a tiny gland that hovers in the lower region of the male body, and is responsible for producing and housing semenal fluid.
The prostate gland is a primary health concern for men, especially as they age, because the prostate gland can actually enlarge and cause difficulties that are uncomfortable and even embarrassing for a man, such as difficulty urinating and even sometimes difficulty having sexual relations.
The biggest concern though of course is the big “c” word – cancer. Prostate cancer, while treatable and beatable in it’s earlier stages is actually harder to treat the longer it goes undetected. Men who have any difficulty urinating need to immediately get to the doctors because they may have an enlarged prostate gland.
Saw Palmetto is a cheap herb that has been known to help a man’s prostate gland by keeping it healthy and functioning in optimum condition. Some herbalists and naturopaths swear that it does promote prostate health.
Some may be quick to dismiss this, but this herbal remedy for prostate health has been around quite a while – do you really think it would have lasted this long if it had no merit?
What many people don’t know is that HGH, the synthetic form that mimics the human form which is responsible for the “youth” benefits it offers to people when they are very young and still growing, is actually used medically for a variety of conditions and diseases.
It is used in children with growth deficiencies for example. Because some children have rare disorders where they do not grow like they should be growing when they are younger and should be having natural growth spurts, they are put on medically prescribed HGH.
This helps the bones to be able to growth longer, which encourage height growth in these children. It can also be used in adults who have not achieved height with age.
It is also used to treat chronic renal deficiency in adults and children. When some numbers were crunched and it was found that children on HGH actually had a slightly higher death rate than children who were not on this form of HGH, a study was commissioned to look at whether this higher death rate was something to worry about.
Sometimes, things like this don’t show a statistically significant enough risk, and the benefits of a medication outweigh the risks.
The research did not show a large enough danger. Still, for any adults doing medical HGH for it’s anti aging benefits should probably think twice about it, as there are really no long term studies that show it is safe for this type of long term, therapeutic use.
There are some excellent alternative supplements that increase HGH out there though. These natural HGH supplements actually help coax the body into making more of it’s own precious HGH (Human Growth Hormone) instead of relying on the actual synthetic hormone to be injected and potentially putting one’s health at risk.
Asthma is a fairly common breathing condition where one feels like they are having a hard time breathing. It is due to the constriction of the bronchial tubes, and it has a lot to do with psychological influences as well as physical influences such as exertion and allergies to certain things in the air or that you eat.
Puerto Rican children actually suffer from asthma more than other nationalities, and it is not known exactly why this is yet. The theory of the children who actually live in Puerto Rico having much higher rates of asthma this year at least is that there were a lot of heavy rains.
These heavy rains theoretically caused more mold spores, and mold is a common trigger of asthma for a lot of people. But what of the Puerto Rican children here in the US that also have higher rates on any given day than non Hispanic children? And why do they not respond as well to common medical asthma treatments like albuterol?
We know we have some excellent asthma remedies at our fingertips these days, but what of the child who needs instant relief fast or else they could be in serious trouble? Drugs like Albuterol are needed for emergency situations, and these children do not react well to this drug.
Drug companies are of course working to come up with something, but it is baffling he medical community as to why this particular demographic is having so many more problems with this disorder.
What are some of the common triggers of asthma in kids and adults? Well, they can vary greatly from person to person. I like to think that asthma is a very individual health issue, and that individuals usually have different triggers.
Lots of people with asthma get attacks when exposed to allergens, such as dust mites, mold, any kind of food they may be allergic to, and more. And many more people, like myself, get asthma more easily when they eat more sugar in their diet, and when they are under a lot of stress of going through a period of heavy anxiety in their lives.
Herbal remedies for asthma really focus on relaxing the mood, and relaxing and helping to open the bronchial passages that get so restricted when we have an attack and make us feel as if we have a giant rubber band around our lungs, or like someone is standing on our chest.