By Gary D. Dillon, DC
Before you dismiss herbal medicine as quackery know that more than 80% of the world’s population uses some form of herbal medication as their primary form of medicine. In many cases these populations as a whole are much healthier overall than we are here in the states. Also, in the U.S. alone over 1500 different botanical preparations are sold as “dietary supplements”.
The use of plants as medicine goes back to the dawn of mans appearance on the earth. In many cases herbal remedies can be used with comparable and usually much safer results than their prescription counterparts. We have to remember that almost all prescription medications today were originally derived from plants. Now they are made artificially in a lab and in much stronger concentrations than their original plant predecessor. Unless you happen to see a chiropractor that uses herbal remedies (today most don’t) or a naturopath you are probably completely unfamiliar with the proper use, safety considerations, and/or contraindications of herbal therapies.
Most medical doctors completely avoid prescribing herbs for a number of reasons. First, they are completely uneducated in their use and efficacy. (100 years ago MD’s were the herbal experts). Second, they do not know who to trust, and rightly so. There are some pretty unscrupulous herbal companies out there and the product that they put in their bottles is not always good and many times it is not in standardized dosages. (Hmm, I wonder if there are any unscrupulous drug companies out there. No, couldn’t be). Standardized dosage means that if the tablet is suppose to be 6mg each tablet in the bottle is actually 6mg of the product. Many of these cheap companies average the dosage of their product by the bottle. This means that if it says
6mg tablets on the bottle some of the tablets may be 2mg and others could be 10mg. Non standardized dosages are how people end up getting no effect from the product because the dosage was too low or an adverse effect because the dosage was too high. Also, Big Pharma has not been able to completely get ahold of all of your supplements yet. Yes, they are trying. For a number of years now the pharmaceutical industry has been trying to draft and pass legislation to make all herbs and any supplements available by prescription only. They say it is for safety and purity purposes. However, it should be noted that prescription medication taken correctly is now the 4th leading cause of death in the United States. Some articles have it listed as number 1. No doctor I know of has quit prescribing pharmaceuticals due to that statistic. Just a note, deaths due to herbal preparations did not even make the top 25. For these reasons, and others, doctors note safety concerns with herbal preparations and usually will not prescribe/recommend them. A good education on herbal remedies is not available in medical or chiropractic school. If a doctor from any discipline wants to know what herbals are safe and yet still affective he/she has to go out and take the extra course on their own. After nine years of school there are very few doctors of any kind that want to go through another course.
The knowledge on herbal remedies is out there and, let’s face it, has been used and studied much longer than prescription medications have even been around. I’m not knocking prescription medication mind you, I’m just saying way to much is being given with an extremely high death rate attached to it. In many countries when you take a prescription to the local pharmacy the pharmacist does not fill the prescription until you have tried an herbal remedy that they will prepare and provide. If the herbal remedy does not work then they fill the prescription.
In light of the fact that many herbal remedies do work and usually are less dangerous than their prescription counterparts I would like to list a few herbal remedies for common ailments below. The following remedies have a high success rate and a low interaction rate. However, remember, herbal remedies are still drugs. They usually come in weaker forms than prescription medicines but they are drugs none the less. They absolutely can interact with a prescription (or the 20 prescriptions) you are taking. So before you try these make sure you know what you are currently taking and do some research. Get advice from someone educated in herbal remedies. Your non trained chiropractor, medical doctor, or local health food store owner doesn’t count. Usually a licensed naturopath or trained chiropractor are the best places for information on this issue. Also use a pharmacist to check on prescription/herbal interactions.
One last note. I am only including a few remedies for old, common minor ailments. Please do not try and get yourself off of your transplant medication using herbs. Not a good idea!
Insomnia Busting Tea
Get a good night’s rest with a cup of chamomile-ginger tea before bed.
1 inch piece of ginger root
6-8 dried chamomile flowers
1 tablespoon local honey
Peel the ginger root and cut it into slices.
Boil 4 cups of water on the stove in a pot or tea pot.
Add the ginger and flowers. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
Stir in the honey until it is dissolved.Strain out the ginger and flowers, pour into a cup and enjoy.
Stinging nettle is not only detoxifying but also great for liver health, fevers and allergies.
1/4 cup dried stinging nettle leaves
4 cups water
1 tablespoon local honey
Boil 4 cups of water.
Stir in leaves and honey.
Let tea steep for 15 minutes. Strain out leaves and enjoy.
Sore Throat Soothing Cough Syrup
Both sage and basil are easy to grow at home and make great cough, sore throat and fever soothers.
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup local honey
Place sage and basil in a sealable jar.
Pour honey over leaves and stir to mix well.
Let mixture sit for 1 week, stirring daily.
Strain out leaves.
Take 1 teaspoon as needed to ease sore throat.