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..
The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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