Pros and Cons of Herbal Remedies

Some Problem Areas of Herbal Medicine

There are numerous herbal remedies available at health food stores, online and some selection at grocery stores. Many herbal remedies are very effective and they don’t have as many side effects as prescription medications. That doesn’t mean you quite taking prescription drugs.

You should talk with you pharmacist and/or doctor to make sure the herbal remedies are compatible with your medications. It is most important that you let your doctor know what herbal remedies you are taking before he prescribes your medications. There are always pros and cons to anything so I will address the problem areas in this article.

Some of the hidden problems with herbal remedies are not all pharmacists are very knowledgeable in this area . They have your medication record, so it is important for them to know if there is a compatibility issue. This is a particular problem around the American Mexican border as many Americans go to Mexico and buy herbal medications when they can’t afford their prescription medication.

There is a case of a woman arriving at a rural clinic in the U.S. and she told the doctor she had taken Zapote blanco (Casimiroa edulis) which is extracted from the leaves or the fruit of a shrub that grows in semitropical and moderate areas of Mexico, because she couldn’t afford her prescription. The extract is recommended for the treatment of hypertension and atherosclerosis and is available as a commercial product in Mexico. The patient’s blood pressure was 240/150 upon arrival with a 48 beats/minute heart rate. She had been on the herbal remedy for 3 days at this point and they were able to treat her and get her blood pressure back in a safe range.

Another of the problems with herbal medicines is there are still not enough randomized drug trials completed, so the side effects are not always known. Also, not all herbal remedies have the same ingredients. Although you get the ingredient that you need, there will be some other such as twigs, bark, and other plant materials that may find their way in there along with your herbal medicine. There is a wide variety of herbal remedies to choose from but if you have a chronic illness, try to learn as much as you can about your illness with some good literature because, it might tell you remedies that are helpful and some to stay away from. For instance, I have Systemic Lupus and a few years ago someone at a health food store recommended Echinacea. Echinacea is a remedy that helps the body defends itself from viruses as it boosts the immune system. If you have a chronic auto-immune disease Echinacea is the last thing you want to take, as you already have an immune system working overtime attacking your healthy tissue. You don’t want to give your immune system any more help!

Herbal Remedy Chart

NIH Randomized Studies

There are also some herbal medicines that may cause high blood pressure in the vessels of your lungs and some others may even cause your immune system to weaken, making you more prone to diseases. The most important thing is to buy a good reference book and be informed about the herbal supplement you are planning to purchase.

The good news is, the National Institute of Health oversees the NationalCenter for Complementary and Alternative Medicine division. It is the Federal Governments lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine. The mission of NCCAM is to:

  • Explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science.
  • Train complementary and alternative medicine researchers.
  • Disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals

They are using scientific methods and advanced technologies to study these alternative medicines. They have funded more than 1200 research projects at scientific institutions. They support training for new researchers and encourage researches to study complementary alternative medicine. They provide accurate information about the research in many ways, such as their website, information clearing houses, fact sheets, lecture series and continuing medical education programs. Their website that lists fact sheets and clinical trials is http://nccam.nih.gov/health/.

I think herbal medicine will ultimately be used to a much greater degree and many of the products may be the ones our great grandparents used. So, get informed and make healthy choices..

Herbal Remedies

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 25 comments

DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

The problem with herbals continues to be lack of standardization and individual dosage requirements. In the meantime, they are often worth a try.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Diamond, I agree but I was happy to know that a lot of studies are happening so hopefully that will not remain a problem down the road.


Putz Ballard profile image

Putz Ballard 6 years ago

Some of th mountain folks here in WNC have used herbs for most of their lives and most that I know have lived long lives. Like DiamondRN correct dosage must be ascertained. Great hub.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

I think the Chinese are more advanced on herbal remedies than we are up to now.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Robert, My husband and mother tell me about the things they'll used for generations and obviously it has been good for them but there are a lot of new things out there. They tell you how much to take but you don't know if that works for you.

Tom I agree with you on the Chinese being much more advanced than the western world.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

I like the idea of herbal remedies but whenever I've searched for one, there's not enough information to make it worth my while.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Sheila, I think there will be more information in the fairly near future. There are some good teas. My mother has stomach problems and ginger tea helps her.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Some herbals are definitely worth a try in moderation, but let's face it they are drugs that haven't been tested properly.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Great info! I've wondered about how or if the herbals were tested and managed.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

BPOP and Habee, I appreciate your comments and I do think caution is wise.


New Child Safety profile image

New Child Safety 6 years ago

Wow, I really like your hub, there is a lot of information here and I love the way you have presented it - easy to read and very practical.

Thanks

NCS


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

NCS, Thank you so much for your comment.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

When you go to Toronto, Canada which has the biggest Chinese population outside China you see all these shops with Chinese people advising. It is unbelievable the amount of roots, leaves and barks they have there. It was a great experience and I wish the not co clever West would learn from them or the Native Americans. Thank you for a great hub, Pamela


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hello, I wish that also. I would imagine San Francisco would have a lot of available herbs with their Chinese population but it is not very available where I live.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Excellent hub Pamela! Im all for natural remedies myself but I also work with my doctor too. There were many of times he wanted to put me on some medication but Im like wait can we try this and he usually works with me on in trying it and holding off the more harsher medications.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Janny, I think it is so important to be involved in the decision making process. After all, it is your body. My doctor is really good to talk to me about decisions and I really respect that.


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

Thank you for this very informative hub. I've learned a lot from it.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Nancy, Thanks for stopping by to read by hub.


TINA V profile image

TINA V 6 years ago

I've also tried some herbal remedies. But I just take extra precautions especially on the dosage to avoid complications. You have published an informative hub. This is helpful to your readers.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Tina, Thank you for your comment and that was definitely my intention.


swtwin2 profile image

swtwin2 6 years ago from South Carolina

Thank you for being both informative and balanced. I found the information very helpful.


Pearl 6 years ago

It is important to remember that just because something is natural, does not mean you can use it as much as you want. Even healthy food, in excess, can cause problems. Even water, in excess, will drown you.

One problem is that some people will take something healthy to the level of excess, even absolute abuse, thinking "more is better". Then they blame the 'thing' instead of taking responsibility. No, no, no! Balance and intelligent use of anything is key.

Some herbs are definitely stronger than others and some are more toxic. And some people are more sensitive. So it is up to individuals and product makers to know how much to use, how often to use and when not to use certain herbs.

Homeopathy uses toxic herbs and substances, processed it in a way that no toxic 'material dose' is left. So that is another way to use herbs that are too tricky for the lay person.

It is also important that you make people aware of the responsibility of using any herbs - nature can heal in the right hands, nature can kill in the wrong hands. The key is the person behind the tools.

Lastly, we also need to be balanced in viewing the side effects of herbs released by the scientific community. Often they isolate the active compounds and test that, and determine toxicity based on that active compound. However, when you take herbs, you take all the buffers that the herb possess that protect you from the active compounds, unlike pharma drugs which use only the active compounds for potent yet unprotected effects.

Keep everything in perspective!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

swtwin2, Thanks for your comment.

Pearl, You made some good points. That is why I addressed pros and cons as there is not enough research completed at this time to just say everything is safe. Moderation in all things is probably a helpful attitude.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Sorry I missed reading this one, Pamela. I had no idea that you had Systemic Lupus before now, but I do remember you making mention of your condition in another hub. I hope that you're doing well.

Dohn


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

dohn, Thank your for you comment and your concern. It is much appreciated and I am doing well.

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