There are many pieces to the puzzle of good nutrition, and in many homes, herbs, both culinary and medicinal, play a big role. We have used herbs to improve our health in our home for at least 30 years when we know it is safe and effective to do so. Here are 8 things for you to think about when you consider using herbs to improve your health.
WHAT ARE HERBS?
Herbs are plants that can be found in anywhere from the garden to a meadow, along a roadside or in a forest. They contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. They also contain phyto-nutrients, plant nutrients in a category of their own. All of these are contained in a properly grown herb in natural balance and harmony. One vitamin or other nutrient would not be as effective without all of the others that are contained in the individual plant...whether you are using the leaves, flowers or root.
WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER USING HERBS FOR HEALTH?
I believe that our Creator put herbs on the earth as foods with the ability to maintain and restore our health. Herbs seem to have the ability to get to the cause of health problems, not just symptoms. Herbs grown under the right conditions are whole and balanced, and they provide nutrition for our body to help it become whole and balanced.
ARE THERE BAD SIDE EFFECTS WITH USING HERBS?
Generally, no, but do keep in mind that anyone can be allergic to anything. We are all different. Any herbs that I will write about in days to come are known to be safe, and have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Some people experience cleansing actions in the body when first using herbs that natural health care practitioners call "detoxification" symptoms. They may include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, etc. Your natural health care provider or herbalist should be able to help you determine whether this is a natural process or allergic reaction.
Often it is this detoxifying process that helps bring the body into a state of health. When toxins that have been stored in the body are released, temporary discomfort may be experienced. This may last 2-5 days or longer. Many learn to accept these feelings because it means you are ridding your body of harmful toxins.
DO I TREAT MEDICINAL HERBS LIKE DRUGS?
Herbs are foods, not drugs. Many medicinal plants can be consumed in large amounts without harmful side effects, but you do have to educate yourself before using any herb this way. Generally, eating herbs in their natural state, not concentrated, etc., is no more harmful than eating any other food.
It is suggested that chemical drugs should be taken 1-2 hours before or after your herbs, so that the chemicals will not harm the effect of the herbs, and the cleansing or other properties of certain herbs will not change what is needed in the pharmaceutical drugs one is taking.
Pregnant and nursing women should be cautious with certain herbs. There are many good books about herb use during pregnancy and nursing, or speak to an herbalist or your natural health care provider.
HOW MANY HERBS SHOULD I TAKE AND HOW LONG?
When using a new herb, begin with the amount suggested and observe how your body reacts to it. Personally, I am sensitive to many things, so I always start with less than what is suggested. If you do not receive the desired result, increase or decrease your intake accordingly, or seek guidance from someone knowledgeable in the use of herbs.
When herbs are used for restoring health, suggested amounts may be more than what is needed for maintaining health. Depending upon the condition and the severity of it, generally approximately 3 months of consistent use is required before the body begins to heal itself. I've heard some suggest that you then add one month for every year you have had the illness as a rule of thumb for how long it will take you to restore health.
HOW SOON SHOULD I GET RESULTS?
It's impossible to give an exact answer. There are many variables involved, such as the severity of the problem, the health of a person's assimilation and digestive system, the number of herbs taken, the stress a person is under, and so on. However, someone with problems like constipation or insomnia will often get excellent results within a day, while someone with poor eyesight or joint pain may not feel any difference for weeks or more.
Note that it sounds like I am claiming that herbs will cure these conditions...this way of thinking cannot be confused with the kind of cure that a medical practitioner claims. I am not a doctor, and cannot prescribe or diagnose. The pharmaceuticals prescribed by a medical doctor are chemicals, and usually just one chemical, that alters the way a specific part of the body, nervous system, etc., etc., works...it is targeted. Eating herbs or plants that you might eat anyway, but with some knowledge of their health benefits, is a much different and much broader thing. You are seeking to improve systems of the body as a whole with healthy eating.
CAN I QUIT TAKING MY PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMICAL DRUGS?
Herbs are a slow, safe way to build and maintain health. Don't ever quit taking medications that your doctor has prescribed. Many people have gradually decreased drug dosage and frequency with the use of herbs. Always consult with the physician who prescribed the medicine that you are taking, but remember that many physicians are still not comfortable with the use of anything but their pharmaceuticals, so do not be surprised if they discourage their use.
However, it is important for them to know what you are taking as they monitor your overall health. Our hope is that with use of nutrition and herbs, you and your doctor will notice enough improvement to see that the chemical drug's dosage can be gradually decreased, and perhaps no longer needed one day.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TAKE MY HERBS?
If you are taking herbs that are teas, encapsulated, or prepared to be taken separately from your meal, it is suggested that you take them 30 minutes before meals. Personally, I take mine at breakfast and dinner when I am more likely to be home for meals.
- Appetite suppressants and blood sugar balancers are best taken 15-30 minutes before.
- Colon cleansing herbs and acidophilus are taken by many at bedtime.
- Herbs that claim to help insomnia are generally taken 1/2 hour before bedtime.
DON'T FORGET to take your supplements with plenty of pure water.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes, the reader is responsible for the outcome of following any of the suggestions provided above. None of the information provided should be used to diagnose or treat disease. Again, you are responsible for what you chose to do with the information provided, and the outcome.