Wednesday, May 27, 2009

You Can't Drug Yourself to Health

Supplements are taken to fill in the holes in our diet. They are supposed to give us the missing pieces in our nutritional puzzle. We try to do our best to eat a balanced diet: limit fats to the healthier variety, eat more complex carbs, limit sugar, eat less red meat, eat more fruits and vegetables, etc., etc. We take a multi vitamin that we hope breaks down in our digestive system.

There are problems in the supplement market. One of those is the fact that there is actually no real regulation of supplements. We buy our products from reputable manufacturers in the hopes that what is on the label is what is in the product. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Although there is oversight by the FDA with regard to supplements, the FDA is not qualified to do the work and doesn't have the time or the staff available due to overwhelming submissions from drug companies. All of this is problematic, as supplements are intended to help us get healthier.

The real issue concerns herbs. We often take herbs as if they were supplements. They look good on the shelf in the health food store, we read the label and conclude that we might benefit from their therapeutic effects. Unfortunately, we are completely unaware that herbs are in fact drugs in their natural form: Digitalis(heart regulating medication) originally comes from Fox Glove, aspirin from White Willow bark.

The benefit of herbal remedies are enormous. Herbs are whole plants. They contain the active constituents needed to aid the body in its natural healing process. Herbs also contain micro-nutrients and other constituents that complement the healing process and give balance to the effect on the body, thereby avoiding most side effects experienced from drugs. Herbal remedies when prescribed by a Master Herbalist, are generally taken in a combination designed to cleanse the body of build up and toxins, aid the part of the body needing to heal and balance the medicinal effect with a tonic. This type of treatment is the most effective and safest use of herbs. When taken in this way, herbal remedies can aid the body to heal a vast array of disease processes without unpleasant or dangerous side effects.

Many drugs given to clients for long term ailments, such as high blood pressure, have devastating side effects that can significantly impact the clients quality of life. Since the risk of not addressing the disease is so great, most clients take their Rx's and suffer in silence. Early intervention with herbal remedies may, in some cases, lessen or remove the need for drug therapy. The lessening or elimination of side effects significantly improves clients quality of life.

Educating the general public as to the dangers present in taking herbal remedies without adequate counsel from a Master Herbalist is paramount. Medical practitioners are not always aware of drug/herb interactions and may not ask clients what herbal remedies or supplements are being taken. It is vital that medical practitioners become more knowledgeable regarding drug/herb interactions and continue to query clients regarding their regimen.

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