Sacramento, CA- Since the dawn of time, plants have been used by people of all races, culture, and religions to sustain life and alter the course of diseases. Our ancestors learned over time which plants harmed them and which plants seemed to help them. They developed ways to preserve and extract healing compounds from these plants.
Over this time, the medicinal use of plants evolved along two parallel paths, with the comparatively recent evolution of modern medicine. One path involved the accumulation of empirical knowledge gathered over centuries, through careful observation of nature and disease, and from cumulative experiences of informed trial and error. Native Americans were particularly knowledgeable about the botanical medicines in their environment. It is rumored they first started using plants and herbs for healing after watching animals eat certain plants when they were sick. They used yarrow flowers topically to stop excess bleeding, blackberry tea for curing diarrhea and soothing swollen tissues, and rosemary to improve memory, eliminate muscle spasm, and help with circulation.
Alongside the empirical knowledge approach, a second path developed to include more theoretical and formalized method of diagnosis and treatment, with the aid of modern analytical methods and scientific methodology.
Utilizing Herbs in Modern World
The use of science to establish evidence-based medicine is changing the way herbs are utilized. Clinical trials from National Health and Medical Research Council aims to study bioactive components of herbs and spices and their relation to combat oxidative processes in the body. Several metabolic diseases and age-related degenerative disorders are closely associated with oxidative stressors in the body. Studies show that consuming half to one-clove of garlic (or equivalent) daily may have a cholesterol-lowering effect up to 9%. There is evidence that 7.2 g of aged garlic extract has been associated with anti-clotting as well as modest reductions in blood pressure.
Similarity and Differences between Herbs and Pharmaceutical Drugs
Medicinal plants and pharmaceutical drugs are often viewed as opposites; but the truth is, they actually have a good deal in common. Digitalis, used to treat congestive heart failure comes from foxglove. Aspirin was originally an extract of white willow bark and meadowsweet, both of which contain aspirin’s chemical precursor, salicin. Another similarity is that both medical plants and synthetic drugs contain chemicals that alter body processes. For example, when you have an infection, you might take an antibiotic or natural antibiotic contained in garlic or goldenseal. In either case, compounds from drug or herb enter the bloodstream and help the immune system eliminate microorganisms that’s causing the problem.
Medicinal herbs and pharmaceutical drugs also have several key differences. For example, dose-for-dose, most herbs are less potent than drugs, which makes herbs safer to take. Reduced risk of side effects, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, is also a big reason why medicinal herbs have become so popular. By comparison, many medicinal herbs have no known side effects for people who are otherwise healthy and are not taking other prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Many are safe for everyone except pregnant or nursing mothers or infants. Some are even safe enough for babies. But just like any medicine, herbal remedies must be used with care. One of the worst mistakes people can make is to assume that because medicinal plants are natural, they are completely harmless. Cascara sagrada, for example, is a potent laxative that can help relieve constipation. But in large doses, it causes abdominal distress, intestinal cramping, and diarrhea. The point is, just like drugs, herbs and herbal products have immense potential to do good when used responsibly. Scroll below to follow general safety guidelines for taking herbal medications.
Best way to consume herbal extracts
While the use of herbs in America has been overshadowed by dependence on modern medications the last 100 years, 75% of the world’s population still rely primarily upon traditional healing practices, most of which is herbal medicine. Herbal medicine is prepared from living or dried plants and contain hundreds to thousands of interrelated compounds. The safety and effectiveness of herbs is often related to the synergy of its many constituents.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that herbal extracts as a whole and/or multiple herbs in complex formulations offer better efficacies and results than equivalent doses of individual active ingredients and/or herbs when used alone, highlighting the significance of synergistic action in herbal therapies. One can take herbs as capsules or liquids or sprays that are chemically isolated from herbs and highly concentrated.
Ask your Naturopathic Doctor, to formulate herbal compound better suited for you and your health concerns!
Herb Safety Tips:
- Become well-informed. Read up on herbs before using them. Get your information from a reliable source that includes safety warnings.
- Start with a low-dose. Always begin at the low end of the recommended range. If a low-dose dose not provide enough relief, gradually move toward the top of the recommended range. If you still do not experience noticeable benefit, consult a Naturopathic Doctor.
- If you experience any unusual symptoms within eight hours of taking an herbal medicine, discontinue use. Everyone reacts to herbs differently. If you are unusually sensitive, you may experience side effects and allergic reactions even at lose doses.
- Do NOT give herbal medicines to children younger than 2 without the approval of the child’s doctor.
- If you are over 65 years of age, stick with dosages at the low end of the recommended ranges. Sensitivity to drugs and medicinal compounds in herbs increases with age. So does the risk of side effects.
- If you are pregnant or nursing, or you have a chronic illness, and or are taking medications, do NOT take medicinal herbs without consulting with your doctor.
- IF you consult with a Naturopathic doctor, follow the doctor’s instructions and promptly report any unusual symptoms to the doctor.
About Dr. Regmi
Dr. Regmi is a California licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) in Sacramento who specializes in treating various acute and chronic conditions by utilizing Naturopathic medicine modalities such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, IV therapy, individualized diet and nutrition therapy, and mindfulness relaxation techniques in guiding the body back to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual alignment.
Visit Sacramento Naturopathic Medical Center online or by calling (916) 446-2591.