Herbal Solutions for Health | Easy Peasy but With a Catch

Published: Apr 24, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Preparing herbal medicine

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Herbal applications have always played an important complementary and sometimes even primary role in resolving a broad variety of health issues on the physical, emotional/psychological, and spiritual plane. Herbs may be used as the only treatment solution, but often they’re applied in combination with other treatments such as massage, bodywork, or regular medicine.

Herbal health solutions include the use of cold and hot herbal compresses, cuisine, moxibustion, aphrodisiacs, incense, herbal baths and herbal steams, aromatherapy, lotions, creams, potions, and herbal drinks, to name some of the applications.

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In fact, using herbal medicine is a very attractive treatment modality because it offers such an “easy” solution. That is, just “mix some herbs, take them in orally, inhale them, or apply them topically, and all your health problems are solved.” Flashy advertisement and promotions that promise quick-fix herbal solutions for health problems are plenty to be found.

Nevertheless, treatments with herbs and herbal supplements have not all been thoroughly tested. Some herbs or combination of herbs can be harmful, that is, they may be rather toxic. Before using a certain herbal recipe or supplement it’s strongly advised to first do a thorough check on the ingredients, for instance, by consulting a certified herbalist or through trustworthy websites or other reference materials.

In addition, even if a herbal solution is considered safe and tested, it doesn’t mean that everybody will react on it favorably. It may be that someone is particularly sensitive or even allergic for certain herbs or herbal combination. It’s therefore advised to always start a treatment with a small dose to see if one’s body and mind can handle it.

There are also risks involved with buying over-the-counter products, because they sometimes contain hidden ingredients; it’s not uncommon that herbal products contain additional pharmaceutical components. At best, the undeclared ingredients are safe and regular dietary supplements, and in that sense they may diminish mineral or vitamin deficiencies, reduce stress and anxiety, or improve one’s blood circulatory system.

Contamination of herbal products and supplements is another, growing concern. Products may contain foreign plant or animal elements, drugs, heavy metals, and/or pesticides, which can cause asthmatic or allergic reactions, and in some cases even organ damage. A diligent verification of the origins and laboratory controls and tests of the herbs to be purchased is certainly advised.

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Another thing is that herbal health solutions often need to be consumed over a longer period, and in addition it takes quite some time for them to become effective because they typically work on the entire body in a holistic fashion rather than directly on specific symptoms. Herbal medicine is usually not a magical quick-fix, even if some are advertised as such.

In a general sense, it’s actually better to consult a professional herbalist before starting a herbal treatment, instead of experimenting and engaging in do-it-yourself solutions. Nevertheless, if one still prefers herbal self-care, mind that it implies obtaining proper knowledge of the herbs involved, that is, which herbs work for (or against) what, how much should be used, in what doses, how long to use them, and in what form to apply them, etc.

It also implies that one needs to have certainty of what exactly to treat, meaning that one needs to have self-assessment and diagnostic skills, while gaining an understanding of the root cause(s) of certain health issues or discomforts. One should take this seriously, and always perform proper research before engaging in herbal self-treatment practices.

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