Hello everyone & welcome to Natural Healing. Please read the About page and my Disclaimer to learn more about me and what we are all about. Before we get into identifying different herbs, I decided to answer the age old question that I am sure most of you are wondering; Are Healing Herbs Safe?” This is a question that you should ask to the person recommending the herb to you, if they come right out & say yes without any hesitation then get a second opinion.
The truth in the matter is that some of the most potent poisons known to man are also herbal. One of the most common is poison hemlock, which is also known as wild parsley. This is the reason that you should never pick parsley in the wild. Another common example is the Amanita mushroom also known as death cap. So don’t go picking wild mushrooms unless you are certain that you can identify them correctly.
So again are herbal medicines safe? The correct answer to this question is: Most of the popular medicinal herbs, including those that we will be discussing are reasonably safe for most people, most of the time when taken in the recommended amounts. But medicinal herbs do contain pharmacologically active compounds that have the same drug effects on your body as prescription medicines will & while these drugs can heal you then can also cause harm such as allergic reactions, side effects, possible fetal injury & interactions with other herbs & drugs. .
Overall herbs are safer for you to take than pharmaceuticals, but can still can still cause harm, so as with any medications be sure that it is safe for you to take before taking it.
In recent years, since many people have been turning to medicinal herbs instead of pharmaceuticals, headlines have proclaimed the hazards of using healing herbs. Here are some of the headlines: ( I have taken these headlines from various reports online, newspapers & magazines of the years.)
* Potentially serious surgery-related bleeding complications have developed in people taking herbs with anticoagulant action, including Garlic & Ginseng. Ginkgo was also blamed, but it appears that was a false accusation. (We will touch on this accusation more when we cover Ginkgo.)
* Kava has been blamed for serious liver failure, including some deaths.
* St John’s Wort can interfere with the action of several prescription drugs.
* Chinese ephedra (ma huang) has been abused by some people seeking amphetamine-like intoxication. At very high doses,it can cause death.
* Herbal laxatives (Buckthorn, Cascara, Sagrada, Rhubarb, & Senna) have also caused problems: abdominal cramps, bloody stool, & eventually even potentially serious electrolyte imbalances from regular use of unusally high doses.
There’s no question about it, herbal medicines can cause problems. That’s why each herb that we discuss here we will contain extensive information on safety & side effects of every herbs discussed in this blog.
However, by any reasonable measure of drug safety, pharmaceuticals cause much more harm. Around the same time that the reports came out about the problems with medicinal herbs, reports were also published about the harm that pharmaceuticals can cause. Here are those articles as they appeared in various sources.
* According to the most recent report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, pain relievers, cough & cold preparations, antibiotics, sedatives, & antidepressants accounted for more than 400,000 poisonings ( both accidental overdoses & intentional suicide attempts) in 2006. Among the hazardous substances listed in each category, almost none were medicinal herbs. In fact, the most hazardous plants turned out to be houseplants, because infants & toddlers sometimes munched on them & become ill.
* For a report published in the April 15, 1998, edition of the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Toronto combed through 30 years of medical literature for reports of drug side effects among hospital patients. Extrapolating from the most scientifically rigorous 39 studies, the researchers estimated that drug side effects kill an astonishing 106,00o, U.S. hospital patients a year & cause 2.2 million serious but nonfatal medical problems. In other words, adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals rank as this country’s fourth leading cause of death, according for more fatalities than AIDS, suicide & homicide combined. These side effects did not result for medical errors. They occurred when drugs were administered in accordance with FDA dosage guidelines.
It is clear that pharmaceuticals have their own safety issues. But which are more hazardous? Pharmaceuticals or herbal medicines? Conventional medications win that contest hands down. Even the regrettable death toll caused by all the potentially hazardous herbs combined are dwarfed by the problems caused by pharmaceuticals.
Of course there are more people that take drugs then use herbs. From a cost-benefit perspective, its more responsible to prescribe potentially hazardous drugs to treat serious conditions. My point here is not to condemn pharmaceuticals , but to point out that despite some problems herbal medications do not pose a major threat to you.
I just want to say again that I am in no way saying that pharmaceuticals are bad for you. I am just pointing out that just like herbal medications, pharmaceuticals can also cause problems if not taken correctly.
I hope that you enjoyed this post & that it helped you to understand herbal medicines a little better. Be sure to check back daily, we will continue to discuss herbal medicines & in a few days I will start a page listing different herbs.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer them for you.