Herbal medicines and herb treatments are now widely used throughout the world. A large number of people take them on a daily basis for almost every sort of…
Herbal medicines and herb treatments are now widely used throughout the world. A large number of people take them on a daily basis for almost every sort of ailment or condition you could imagine. Large scale herbal pharmacies have sprung up in towns and cities and newspapers and magazine adverts promote these products widely.
But are herbal medicines safe?
Recent press reports have given significant cause for concern although – to be fair – the vast majority of those who take this kind of complementary herbal treatment do so with no adverse effects of any kind.
If you are thinking about using herbs to improve your health then follow these simple guidelines to make sure that you and your family remain safe.
Firstly – remember that herbal medicines are still medicines at the end of the day. Many of our most powerful modern drugs are derived from plants originally so it’s no great surprise that extracts of those plants also have the active chemicals in them. You need to think about how the herbs might react in your system and also about how they might work with or against any other drugs you are taking.
Secondly – some of us are at more risk than others of developing serious adverse effects. Taking herb based medication is not recommended if you are pregnant (particularly in the early stages of pregnancy but also later in the pathway), breast feeding or in young children. Recent research now shows that the elderly are also at risk from problems related to this type of complementary medicine approach.
If you are due to have a surgical operation then tell your surgeon and your anesthetic doctor what you are taking. Some of these natural products can interact with anesthetic drugs and cause major problems with breathing or with heart rhythm. Others can prolong the bleeding time and make blood loss more of a problem during surgery.
People with liver or kidney diseases are particularly at risk from problems related to so called natural healthcare products. There have been several reported deaths due to liver failure in people who have taken chinese type plant based remedies. Other research has found high levels of western drugs included in some chinese health preparations but with no indication of this on the packaging.
If you want to stay safe when using this kind of therapy you need to look carefully at the product packaging. The health regulatory authorities now closely monitor all medicinal products – including those of a natural type. Look out for the Product License (PL) or the Traditional Herbal Registration number on the box or packet. If these numbers are present then it indicates that the contents have been passed as suitable for health use.
In general if you are thinking about using herb based medication for health purposes you should be certain to seek an consultation from a qualified herbalist before you start your treatment. You wouldn’t dose yourself up with normal medication without getting advice from a doctor and you really need to apply the same principles to herb treatments too.