Know Your Herbal Medicines Before You Use Them
Many people have returned to herbs that have been used for centuries to heal illnesses. The scientific basis for herbs that heal convince them that they are getting safe treatment, but this is not always the case. Healing herbs are not tested and several companies sell remedies that do not have the correct dosage to treat the ailments they are designed for. You can still get good healing herbs, but you have to look in the right places.
Check with a reputable local herbalist, your local university extension center or in library publications to find safe healing herbs. Learn how to grow them and find out how to use them properly. Many herbalists, universities and herbal organizations offer classes, seminars and workshops to help you identify, grow and use healing herbs. Herb gardens such as the HealingHerbGarden on the University of Washington's Seattle campus are sources of information on healing herbs to herbalists, botanists and medical professionals. Organizations approved by the National Agricultural Library, such as the American Botanical Council, the Herb Society of America, the American Herb Association and the Herb Research Foundation provide reliable healing herb information.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out what healing herbs can have adverse health effects or interfere with your medication. According to Memorial Sloan-Kettering, herbs such as Chaparral tea, comfrey, kava roots and borage can damage your liver and healing herbs including garlic, St. John's Wort, milk thistle, ginseng, turmeric and ginkgo interfere with the metabolism of some drugs. Herbs such as licorice, garlic, bilberry, feverfew, vitamin E, ginger, turmeric, red clover and ginkgo interfere with blood thinners.
Check out books on healing herbs from the library or buy some at the bookstore. Good choices are 'Cornucopia: A Source Book of Edible Plants' by Stephen Facciola which lists over 3,000 food plants including herbs and wild edibles or 'CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs' by James A. Duke which is a reference book on folk medicine and plants with medicinal uses. A field guide on herbal plants is useful if you're going out in the field or woods to search for medicinal plants.
Ask government agencies about healing herbs. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't monitor healing herbs, groups such as the National Toxicology Program held a national workshop on healing herbs and began working with the National Institute of Health, the FDA, academic institutions and the Office of Dietary Supplements to research herbal toxicity, effects of long term usage and effects of high doses of healing herbs.
National Institute of Health: Medicinal Herbs http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/files/HerbalFacts06.pdf
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