Did you grow up hearing certain rules about herbal medicine? While many tips and tricks for using herbs medicinally are quite sound, some are actually myths. It’s a good idea to know which rules you should abandon if you’re planning to boost your health with herbs, so we’ve put together a list of some of the most common myths out there.
1. You Can’t Take Herbal Medicine with Western Medicine
Like any other medication, herbal medicine can interact with other remedies you’re taking, herbal or allopathic. However, that’s not true of all medicines and herbs, so you should look into the interactions if you are taking a regular drug and need to add some herbal goodness to your life. You may be surprised at how well they go together.
2. Herbal Medicine is Safer Than Allopathic Medication
Just because it’s natural, doesn’t make it safe. After all, arsenic is also natural and most certainly not a safe thing to ingest. When you’re looking at herbal medicine, it’s very important to learn about the herbs you intend to use. There are side effects from plants, just as there are from over the counter medications.
You shouldn’t attempt a remedy until you’ve looked into the possible effects. Don’t forget to check if there are side effects when two or three herbs are mixed or if you use a herbal remedy with a chemical one.
3. You Can’t Have Chamomile Tea If You Have Hayfever
Hayfever or allergies to plants that come from the daisy family, which chamomile does, is caused by inhaling the pollen from the plants. As long as you’re not the one brewing the tea, you shouldn’t have a problem. The tea is made from flowers and leaves that are brewed, so you won’t be inhaling anything.
Of course, if you have a more severe allergic reaction to these plants, you should certainly avoid chamomile completely.
4. Herbs Should be Used Fresh for Medicinal Purposes
You may have heard that herbs are best when used fresh, but this is actually dependent on the herb. Some, such as parsley and dill, tend to be more useful fresh. Others, such as oregano or rosemary, are quite potent when dry. You should always do your research before deciding on whether to use herbs fresh or dried.
5. You Need to Take Herbal Remedies for Weeks to Get Results
Some medicinal herbs do take time to build up in the system and provide you with maximum results. However, many will affect you rapidly and give you the results you’re looking for. Peppermint soothes a headache rapidly, while ginger can ease nausea shortly after you sip some tea. Again, it’s about knowing your herbs and how they work. When you understand how they function, you can select the options that will give you the best results in the shortest period of time.
6. You Should Take One Herbal Remedy at a Time
If you have a headache, you might turn to willow bark or peppermint, but would you ever mix them? The general rule of thumb in many cases is to use just one herbal medicine at a time. However, like conventional medicines, herbs can be blended to create more powerful remedies.
For example, mixing ginger, peppermint, and chamomile can give you a tummy soothing tea that will be stronger than just one of these ingredients on its own. Of course, you should know if there are any interactions with these, but for the most part, mixing means it’s a stronger option.
7. It’s Essential to Measure Your Herbal Medicine
To a certain extent, this rule is true. What it doesn’t take into consideration, though, is how potent each plant is. Depending on where it’s grown and the age of the plant, it’s medicinal properties could be stronger or weaker. There are no standards here, so when working with a plant that may have more undesirable side effects, be sure to start with the lowest dosage.
This ensures you’ll avoid overdosing if you end up with a stronger plant. In many cases, an exact dosage isn’t necessary anyway, so don’t stress too much over it.
8. Only Herbalists Recommend Herbs as Remedies
Surprisingly, this is not true these days. In fact, more and more doctors are coming on board with natural options and you may be surprised to find your general practitioner prescribing ivy cough syrup or honey for a sore throat. Herbalists are not the only ones who see the value in herbs.
9. You Should Always Take the Herb, Not the Medicine Made from It
Some medicines are derived from plants and at first glance, it may seem like a good idea to just use the herb on its own. However, it is not always safe to do this! For example, a cardiac drug is made from foxglove flowers, but if you were to use one of these plants in your natural remedies, it would kill you quite rapidly. Research is key!
10. Herbs Need to Be Ingested for Relief
While it’s true we often focus on teas and tinctures that you can drink to receive the benefits of the herbs, that’s not the only way to use them. In fact, some herbs work better outside the body. Lavender, for example, is excellent for aromatherapy, and comfrey leaves can be turned into a poultice for bruises. There are plenty of herbs and ways to use them that do not involve actually eating or drinking them.
There are a lot of “rules” that have popped up over the years on how to use medicinal herbs. It’s one of the main reasons you should always do your own research about the plants you use. Some rules, such as not taking St. John’s Wort with birth control pills, are true and should be followed. However, many just don’t apply or were originally developed before more recent advances in medicine.
What rules about herbal medicines have you heard that turned out to be myths?
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