Are Herbal Supplements Safe?
When people are considering alternative remedies for their ailments, questions about herbal supplement safety and effectiveness tend to be foremost on their minds.
So, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about herbs and herbal supplement safety that will help clear up any confusion, misinformation or myths that you may have been told.
True or false: Taking the wrong herbal supplement just makes you healthier?
True most of the time. It’s true because medicinal herbs contain active ingredients that are medicinal constituents that support your body’s functions.
For example, if you take ginkgo, a herb that supports your brain functions by stimulating circulation to the brain, when you wanted a herb for the colon such as slippery elm, your brain gets healthier. You will, as a result, start to have better focus and concentration but your colon won’t get healthier.
True or false: Medicinal herbs contain substances that can kill you?
The pharmaceutical companies and medical profession want you to believe this is true. They will tell you that you can be harmed from herbs because that herb may contain “ingredient x”, which is a known “something bad.”
The reason why this line of argument is flawed is because herbs not only contain “ingredient x”, a known “something bad” but also “ingredients y, z, a , b and c” that inactivate that particular known bad result. That’s the part that the medical profession won’t tell you.
Pharmaceutical drugs are based on plant constituents. The minute that a constituent has an activity that could potentially make them money, such as one that decreases inflammation, they will isolate the ingredient, synthesize it in the laboratory and create a drug out of it.
This way of mimicking nature has never been right from the start. That’s why drugs have side effects; they are cheap replicas of the real constituent found in nature and they never include all the other constituents that prevent side effects!
Medicinal herbs, on the other hand, have the entire range of constituents that are supposed to be there together in the herb, each one supporting the other. They are wholesome.
True or false: Herbs have contraindications just like drugs?
True. Certainly, where contraindications are concerned, there are herbs that clearly should not be used when someone has a known disease process. For example, if someone has kidney disease, it’s probably not a good idea to take herbs that will make the kidneys work harder.
If someone has irritable bowel syndrome, then senna should not be used because it will increase bowel movements. If someone is taking six different prescription medications and one of them is for overcoming alcohol abuse, then any herb could potentially be regurgitated; that’s the nature of the drug.
This doesn’t mean that herbs are not safe. It just means that you must be knowledgeable about herbs when using them. It’s not wise to dive in and start consuming them if you don’t know what it is you are taking.
True or false: You can take herbs with medications?
False. Combining herbal supplements with medications is never recommended. That’s why smart herbalists always tell their clients to wait one hour in between medication and herbs.
If someone combines an herb with medications, then it doesn’t mean the herb is not safe. Instead it means the person was not smart in what they did! Let’s get the facts straight here!
An allergy to herbs is always a possibility. Does that mean herbs are not safe? Not at all.
Some herbs can cause photo-sensitivity such as St. John’s Wort. What this means is that when you take them, you could potentially develop a rash that appears after being outside in bright sunlight.
Generally those people who become photosensitive to herbs are those taking pharmacological medications.
So true or false: Herbs are safe?
True, when you know what you are doing and follow the instruction, herbal supplement safety is not a big issue.
Do you have any stories or wisdom to share with regards herbal supplement? If so, please contact us with your stories and experiences!