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Things to Consider Before Using Herbal Remedies

Updated on June 24, 2014

Things to consider before using herbal remedies



In the recent past, many people are resorting to herbal remedies to treat common illnesses like cold, backpain or other more serious ones such as cholesterol reduction, sugar regulation, high blood pressure, memory improvement or even cancer treatment. Sometimes when people want to end their illnesses and it seems that the prescriptive medicines doesn’t work at all, people resort to other alternatives -- herbal remedies in the form of food supplements.

Herbal medicines proliferate in the market and it is labeled as food supplements rather than as a food or a drug because for example in the United States the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can’t regulate herbal medicine unless it is classified either as food or drug. Herbal remedies classified under food supplement can easily be monitored by the FDA. It is also important that before you use herbal remedies, you need to consider some things which is deemed necessary to avoid complications or serious repercussions to your health.

Objectives:

  • The main topic of this article is to introduce the reader about herbal remedies and some issues pertaining to safety precautions to keep in mind when you decide to use herbal remedies. It will also discuss the things we need to consider before using herbal medicines.


herbal remedies    picture courtesy of http://herbalandalternativemedicine.com/images/herbalremedies.jpg
herbal remedies picture courtesy of http://herbalandalternativemedicine.com/images/herbalremedies.jpg

What is Herbalism?

  • Herbalism is the practice of using plants or plants extracts to medicate illnesses. Herbs are plants that is important for its flavor scent, culinary or medical purposes and spiritual purposes. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to also include “fungal” and “bee” products, minerals, shells and certain animal part as well.
  • Herbalism is also referred to as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy.

Some facts about herbal medicines

  1. The safety and effectiveness of alternative medicines have not been scientifically corroborated and remain largely unknown.
  2. In contrast to the first item, history can attest to the fact that herbal medicines are used by our ancestors in treating illnesses. And in fact throughout history and all other sources the Bible, Koran, Sridhar poems of Tamils, Vedas and other old texts, the medicinal benefits of herbs are quoted specially in China where they based mainly their medicine on herbal remedies.
  3. In the US, the FDA doesn’t regulate herbal remedies as medicine, so they are being marketed as supplements under food, in that way FDA can regulate it.  Herbal remedies are being sold in the market and online as food supplements as they are easier to market them as such.

 

herbal remedies   pic courtesy of http://www.herbalremedies365.com/uploaded_images/chinese-herbal-remedies-770033.jpg
herbal remedies pic courtesy of http://www.herbalremedies365.com/uploaded_images/chinese-herbal-remedies-770033.jpg
US Food Drug Administration
US Food Drug Administration
Herbal book Arabic -- ancient herbalism, aside form China, Arab countries also used herbs for curing diseases
Herbal book Arabic -- ancient herbalism, aside form China, Arab countries also used herbs for curing diseases


If you are going to use herbal remedies as food supplements there are things you need to consider:

  1. Consult your physician first about the dosage specially if you are taking other medications
  2. Be sure that it will not interact with other medications you are using specially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or you have some other major illness
  3. Do not take beyond your dosage because it has been proven that some herbal medicines if you take them excessively there is harmful effects, a case in point is the extract of St. John’s-wort or kava, ginseng or ginkgo can be used for relieving depression and stress related sickness, but it has been proven that it can cause poisoning as well if taken in large amount. Sometimes when we want to end a pain or we want to be well, we just take it excessively.
  4. Research first about the herbal medicines, it helps if you know the scientific name of the herbal and then you can consult a physician about it so that he can tell you if it is alright for you to take the herbal remedies.
  5. Just like in normal prescriptive medicines if you notice any reaction to the herbal medicines, you should stop taking it and consult again your physician
  6. Sometimes herbal medicines will react negatively with other medicines you are taking in so a precaution is a must
  7. You must also check the bottle of the drugs if it has the necessary requirements prescribed by the FDA.


Here’s how to check the label of the herbal remedies/supplement:

  • Name of the herbal supplement
  • Name and address of the manufacturer or the distributor
  • The list of the ingredients , it should be found in a piece of paper as a supplement or it is written below it
  • Once you cant understand the ingredients listed, you can go to the website Dietary Supplement Labels Database” and check on the ingredients or just to be safe ask a doctor about it

The rule for dietary supplements are as follows:

  1. Those who are manufacturing the dietary supplements don’t have to seek FDA approval before they can put these dietary supplements on the market.
  2. Manufacturers should adhere to the GMPs (good manufacturing practices ) to ensure the quality of the supplements and they should be of quality standards as well
  3. If a dietary supplement is out in the market, the FDA regulates it and they can easily suspend the selling of it or they can issue a warning for the product to be removed in the market it if they find any it can take action against the manufacturer or distributor or both, and may issue a warning or require that the product be removed from the market.

Summary and Conclusion:

Historically, herbal remedies are proven to help in the cure of some diseases and the decision to use it should be supplemented with such precautions because a good health is basic to a persons well being. Always seek the help of a medical doctor if something is wrong because you are the one responsible for your general well being. Adhering to the safety precautions will make a difference and it can also bring full guarantee that you are using the herbal remedies in the right way.

Sources:

  1. Mayo Clinic About Herbal Remedies
  2. Medlineplus
  3. US Food and Drug Admisnistration
  4. American Holistic Health Association


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    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

      Hi my dear Maita !Herbs seem to be the theme here today at HP. I myself would like to find one for my arthritic shoulder. It flares up every once in awhile and I can barely function from the pain. Fortunately it does not happen all the time. Good hub though Maita. Have a good evening my friend ! Glad to be the first to break in your new hub ! :)_

    • CoCoa_81 profile image

      CoCoa_81 7 years ago from Shreveport, Louisiana

      Thank you, this is very informative.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 7 years ago

      Well-researched as usual with good information. Looks like we're in the health contest together! Woohoo!

    • Ghost Whisper 77 profile image

      The IGNITER vs Corrupted Governments 7 years ago from The U.S. Government protects Nazi War Criminals

      Hey-are you and agniwu working together tonight on the benefits of herbs? I just left her page with good information-and now this one! Good job-I have used St Johns Wort-helpful-and it is good that you let others know that they need to be careful with them-especially mixing them with other medicines! Good hub Maita!!!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      As you said Maita, precaution must be taken. I believe there are too many inexperienced consumers who buy according to what they believe or have heard, rather than basing it on facts or consultation with their naturopath. Well done Maita!

    • alexandriaruthk profile image

      alexandriaruthk 7 years ago from US

      well researched hub and useful information, well done prettydarkhorse. I dont know about these things before!

    • Truth From Truth profile image

      Truth From Truth 7 years ago from Michigan

      Some great tips on herbal remedies. I like vitamins myself.

      I didn't know that some of these like saint johns wart can be poisonous, if taken to much. Thanks for the tips.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      This is so true about the US and the FDA - manufacturers of herbal supplements know that in the US they can put an item on the market - and the only quality controls are voluntary and their own. This has resulted in serious injury and even death (then the FDA will step in). As in the case of ephedra or ma juang - used forever in Chinese medicine but with a trained herbalist - but in the US it was just stuck on the shelves and who knows what the formulation was.

      Thanks for this reminder that we have to be vigilant and responsible and never, ever naive.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You did such a fantastic job writing this one, Maita. I like how you advised the reader to consult their doctor/physician if they are taking meds in conjunction with their herbal supplements. I also like how you introduced herbal supplements to us by making a point that it has been around for thousands of years and so was made mentioned of in some of the earliest writing. Great HubMob Hub, Maita.

      Dohn

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrea 7 years ago from Italy

      At the end herbs are much more safe than drugs, at least it seems so looking at the instructions in pills booklets. But as in everything else knowledge is required to use herbs safely. Great hub Maita, rated and stumbled. :)

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Good advice, Maita!!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your cautionary hub. Good advice.

      TONY0724 I HOPE YOU SEE THIS. A GOOD REMEDY FOR ATHRITIS IS ROSEHIP-CAPSULES

    • Mama Sez profile image

      Mama Sez 7 years ago from Canada

      Anything taken in excess is bad...sound advice Maita. May the angel of luck be with you on the health contest :)

    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      Excellent hub Maita, especially since so many people are into herbal remedies. There are positives and negatives connected with everything in life. We need moderation, coupled with common sense. The recommendations you suggested are worthy of serious consideration. Thank you.

      Forever His,

    • a2z50 profile image

      a2z50 7 years ago

      Great content ! Very informative and held my interest . seems as every year goes by , we all get more interested in improving our health. Good read ! thank you!

      Ron

      As Always also rprcarz50 Keep on Hubbing

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Very informative. Great job.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 7 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Great informative job Ate'Maita sweetie. Just a little note as a post-thought.

      Pharmacy medicines their main ingredient is usually derived from some herb or plant for instance the pretty poppy flower, from that plant we derive Heroine narcotic. From the coca plant leaves, we get cocaine.

      From the pretty Daffodil flower from its root we derive an halucogen known as bella donna. There are even halucinogens that can be found in certain mushrooms.

      Drugs are drugs sweetie whether they are mass-produced by a pharmacutical company or mass-produced by a herbalistic company.

      Always be careful what you put into your mouth or on your body, you may get more than what you were looking for.

      KUYA Dave.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent information on herbal remedies.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi soni, thank you for dropping by, I really appreciate it, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Kuya Dave, I understand what youre saying, I grew uo in a country where I breather and use herbal, it is natural, I can say even it is a gift from nature and old ancestors and people will attest to their effectiveness, always in moderation though, but in the Western world, all are artificials but scientifiacally proven, but like what you said, be careful what you put in your mouth, thank you so much and God Bless, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Micky Dee, thank you for your nice comment, TC, I hope your ok now, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Ron, Thank you for your very nice comment, I appreciate it very much, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Revlady, i like what you said about moderation and common sense, thats it, Thank you and Bless you, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Mamasez, kumusta, moderation yes -- thats the keyword, thank you, salamat, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi hello, thank you for your nice comment and about Tonys arhritis as well, I will post a hub on one of his article to reach him or email him, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Cris, thank you, Are you into herbal as well? Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi hypno, thanks for your nice comment, I am into herbal as I grew up with it, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Dohn thank you again for a nice comment,If this is the Philiipines where I can just pick a leaves and boil them, [precautions is nto necessary as it is proven by the old people and lots of people, but in moderation of course, but here in the US where even herbal medicines are contaminated with chemicals, it is safe to have precautions, Thank you so much DOHN, and have a good day, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi BK< yes a trained herbalist, your right there, however here in the US, they dont have trained herbalist as most dont believe on it I mean herbalism, it is cultural as well, Thank you so much dear, coming form an expert on herbals, how can I not agree with you, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Truth, yes I researched about St. johns and it is found out to be poisonous in excess, I take vitamins myslef I buy it Asian store hehe, herbal supplements form Asia supposedly, take care , Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi alexandriaruthk, thanks so much dear, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Beth, got ya, I know you know this as well being a mother an an Asian yourself, informed consumer is best, specially for health purposes, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Ghost, yes I am in tandem with anglnwu, hehe, No I joined the contest for the month and it is nice writing about herbals, and it is good that you like this one and yes st john if taken excessively is nto good, more things work that way,. always in moderation my girl, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi anglnwu, thank you, good luck dear you ROCK as well, Maita

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Very informative hub.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi cocoa, how are you, Thanks dear, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
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      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      thank you sandyspider, I appreciate you dropping by here, Maita

    • profile image

      poetlorraine 7 years ago

      wonderful hub will come back to it time and again. Loved the photo also

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Tony, hmm, thnak you and you devirginized this hub LOL< oh Did you get what hello said in her comment? In the Philippines I put a patch to a painful part leaves of an old tree paper tree, usually it is boiled and then mashed and put it in the painful area, but I dont see the paper tree here in the uS, hmm, I will go to asian store and check about it and email you, I hope it wont bother you now and then, try what hello suggested as well, I will email you about it, Thank you, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi poet, thank you dear, I am happy you find this one useful, Maita

    • Tammy Lochmann profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 7 years ago

      Great information Maita. I am definitely going to share this.

    • Tubbs Merouge profile image

      Tubbs Merouge 7 years ago from Louisiana

      Good hub here Maita!! Lots of info. I think there is a lot we could learn about the healing power of some herbs.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 7 years ago

      Maita - An exceptional hub, I must say. Although I would much rather take alternative medications over drugs. I am well aware of the dangers in both and am very cautious.

      The tricky part comes into play when you try to find a doctor that is open minded and will guide with the herbal remedies.

      Just the same, with all that has been written on herbal remedies. This hub reminds us that it is necessary to proceed with caution.

      Great Job!

      Sage

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Tam, thank you for your nice comment, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Tubbs, I am glad you learned from this one, I too used herbals a lot, and it is good for me! Thank you and have good day! Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Sage, good comments from you, I agree with you, finding a medical doctor is difficult and tricky, and of course I am for herbal, but when in cases where you are also taking other meds, better consult a doctor first, being informed is the best, Thank you Sage, Maita

    • Mystique1957 profile image

      Mystique1957 7 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

      My sweet kaibigan....

      You always come up with great and interesting hubs! You can never be too careful when your health is in play. There are very good advices and interesting facts here.

      Salamat, my dear Maita,

      warmest regards and blessings by the zillions,

      Al

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 7 years ago from India

      Hi prettydarkhorse,

      I got no problem with any kind of medicine but to me these remedies are not well reserched. Any Allopathic drug which comes in market is well reserched but any other pathy including herbal i dont think they reserch it well enough so we dont even know the side effects.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi mystique1957, thnaks for thgat wonderful comments from ym kaibigan, Salamat, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      hi sweetie, youre such a sweetie and thanks for your comments, I agree with you, but then herbal is used by our ancestors for so many years already and they are proven to be effetcive as well, Just be informed is ok,. Hav ea good day, Maita

    • manlypoetryman profile image

      manlypoetryman 7 years ago from (Texas !) Boldly Writing Poems Where No Man Has Gone Before...

      Seriously...Natural remedies have to be better for your body...then a bunch of chemicals with side effects.(Not that many pharmaceuticals can't serve a purpose in healing). If given a choice...I would much prefer the medicines much closer to nature. Great Hub, PDH

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      hi manly I agree with you 100 percent, I grew up perusing it and I can attest to the fact that it is beneficial but when you are here in the US and the concotions are usually articial as they process it in the form of dietary supplement, it is best to be informed, MTnank you manly, Maita

    • MyQute profile image

      MyQute 7 years ago from Singapore

      Many herbal supplements are not USDA organically certified. Will not affect most healthy people badly although people need to know that even nuts, eggs or even gluten and gelatine in supplements may trigger or re-trigger allergies.

      If in doubt, best to consult a nutritionist or holistic doctor before you start any supplement.

    • timorous profile image

      timorous 7 years ago from Me to You

      Hi pdh. Interesting hub. I'm glad you pointed out these precautions about herbal remedies.

      Even though some of these have been around for hundreds of years, you really need to consult a trained herbalist or naturopath to understand how these may interact with any prescription drugs you may also be taking.

      Your normal doctor is not likely to be any more knowledgeable than any website when it comes to herbal supplements.

      This hub nicely complements my 2 Natural Health hubs. Everyone should check them out. Just go to my profile page.

      A quick additional note on Dave Matthews earlier comment "drugs is drugs". I'm afraid he's mis-informed. While some drugs are based on natural substances, most pharmaceutical drugs contain a great many chemicals that don't belong in our bodies. The 'side-effects' are the body rejecting the foreign chemicals. They also suppress your immune system, inhibiting proper healing.

      Just a side note: In the section of the hub "Some facts about herbal medicines", point #3 is a little unclear about what the FDA regulates or doesn't. You may want to clear that up.

      Keep well.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Thank you timorous I so appreciate your comments and I will check on your hubs, it sounds interesting, I edit item number three I think it is clearer now, I thank you for that, Maita

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Great hub Maita, for the life of me I can not figure out why people think that taking more of a drug and or a herb will make them feel better; most of the time it makes a person feel worse. :) Thanks for sharing!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Another good hub; thanks for sharing.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Money, thats a nice take from you, I think sometimes people become desperate because they want to get well, but it is just wrong, Thanks, Maita

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      hi cool, thanks, Maita

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 7 years ago from North America

      Comostaca pretty,

      Very well researched hub, you said it all & no room for any additional info. Next time if you want lots of comments, leave many unanswered question's.....just kidding.

      Safety and effectiveness of alternative medicines is not monitored by FDA because the pharmaceutical cartel don't want FDA to recognize Herbal, Homeopathic & all other alternative health cure methods. Therefore they are listed as food supplements.

      Herbal remedies were the first natural remedies used by humans. You already mentioned herbal remedies were used by our ancestors.

      Thanks for a wonderful hub. Enjoy rest of your day. Salamat

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hi Mr Nice, well, thank you so much for your nice comment, and now I understand more because of your explanation about pharmaceuticals Thank you, Salamat and youre an angel, Maita

    • Gorgeously profile image

      April Treme 7 years ago from United States

      thanks for the info!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image
      Author

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      hi georgeously, thank you, Maita

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