Health and medicine are common topics in the news every day. Prescription medications cost too much for many of us to afford in a good year, but with the economy having so many problems right now things are much worse than normal. Because of these problems, many people have been looking for alternative medicine options, and luckily for them there are plenty.
Alternative medicine is a phrase that covers a broad range of topics. There are specific herbal remedies, as well as alternative treatments such as acupuncture, hypnosis, and massage. Even in the realm of herbal remedies, there are Chinese herbs and customs, as well as Western herbs and customs. These tend to be different in some ways.
Using natural herbs and plants as medicine is a practice which has been around for thousands of years. There is actually plenty of evidence which has shown herbal remedies and plants being used as medicine as far back into the past as 60,000 years ago. Cave paintings have even been found which indicate herbs were used for medicine, and these cave paintings are believed to have been made sometime between 13,000 and 25,000 B.C. In fact, many of our modern day man-made prescription drugs have been based on the natural healing substances found in herbs and plants.
There are many people around the world, and particularly in the United States, who do not feel that using plants and herbs as an alternative to prescription medicine should be an option. The argument is that there is not enough scientific proof and there have not been enough actual studies to confirm what works and what doesn't. The opposite school of thought comes from people who actually specialize in using herbal remedies to treat a variety of ailments and conditions. They know from experience how well certain herbs and alternative treatments actually work.
There are arguments which say the reason few studies have actually been done on herbal remedies is because there's no money to be had. Drug companies and large pharmaceuticals cannot patent natural plants and herbs. And if they cannot put a patent on something, they cannot charge so much money for it.
There is also a problem due to lack of knowledge and information in mainstream society. Many people do not understand how to use plants and herbs to take care of a variety of simple health conditions. They also don't understand what may be good or bad, or exactly how different herbs and medications can interact with each other. Some people even believe that if something is natural it must be safe no matter what you do with it. This of course is not how the world works, even with natural herbs and plants. There are many plants and other natural items found throughout the world which are extremely dangerous and even poisonous.
One example of this is a simple rhubarb plant. Rhubarb is a healthy vegetable that we can eat in a variety of ways, but if you try to eat the leaves from that plant or use them in some sort of medicine, you could go into convulsions and you might even die from it.
Just like prescription drugs, there are certain herbs and medicinal plants which have the potential to create problems for certain people. An herb known as goldenseal for example, can cause problems for diabetics and people who have hypoglycemia because it is a natural form of insulin. This herb is also excellent to use as a natural infection fighting antibiotic, but if someone with low blood sugar takes it, there could be severe side effects if their blood sugar levels drop too low.
Most people are aware that prescription drugs, or even over-the-counter medications, can interact with each other badly. What they don't know however, is that the same thing can happen with herbal remedies, and medicinal plants. These herbs can also conflict with prescription medications too. For example, one herb which is popular to use for boosting your energy is ginseng. Many people don't realize, that if they take ginseng and drink large amounts of caffeine at the same time, they run the risk of having heart out the patience or even more severe emergencies such as a heart attack. The same types of risks can apply if you're taking certain prescription drugs along with ginseng too.
These examples are just a few, but they should stress the importance of how powerful herbal medicine can be. Whether you want to start using herbal medicine as an inexpensive alternative to modern drugs, or you simply want to start taking better care of yourself, you need to become fully educated on exactly what herbs you choose to use. Just as you need to be careful with prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, you also need to be informed and aware of what herbal medications can and cannot do.
Herbal remedies can be an extremely powerful way to take care of many common health problems and ailments. They're very inexpensive to use, and there are generally many less side effects than you might see from prescription drugs. These are all excellent reasons to start learning about herbal remedies and possibly find ways to reduce your own health care expenses naturally, and safely.
Statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA.