75 Safe and Effective Herbal Remedies - Mother Earth News

75 Safe and Effective Herbal Remedies

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By Michael Castleman

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    Herbal remedies can be a safer, less expensive alternative to pharmaceuticals, and you can grow many of them in your backyard.

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    Drug side effects are the nation’s fourth leading cause of death.

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    It ain’t over till it’s over. End relationships that no longer work for you, as you could be spending time in a dead end. Rather head for more meaningful things. You could be missing opportunities while you’re stuck in a meaningless rut, trying to breathe life into something that is long gone.

    Rather than herbs being too weak, many drugs are too strong, and using herbal remedies may help allleviate your symptoms without as many side effects.

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    My wife is an M.D. trained in pharmaceutical medicine. She prescribes drugs every day, but also recommends medicinal herbs. In our medicine cabinet, we stock drugs and herbs, but we use more of the latter. When we catch colds, we prefer echinacea and andrographis (immune-boosting herbs proven to speed recovery), ginseng (ditto), licorice root (for sore throat), tea or coffee (caffeine helps relieve stuffed nose and chest congestion), eucalyptus lozenges (for cough), and pelargonium (if post-cold bronchitis develops).

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    Thirty years ago, when I started writing about herbal remedies, the vast majority of M.D.s (my wife included) never recommended herbs over drugs. Today, doctors are increasingly open to recommending nondrug alternatives given reasonable evidence of safety and effectiveness.

    Unfortunately, many medical authorities still disparage medicinal herbs. Critics make four accusations: Herbs are ineffective, unsafe, unregulated and, when they work, they’re not as strong as drugs. Ineffective? Hardly. As I document in my book, The New Healing Herbs, thousands of studies confirm the effectiveness of medicinal herbs for hundreds of conditions.

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    Unsafe? Like drugs, medicinal herbs can cause harm. Anything that’s pharmacologically active can. To ensure safety, purchase a guide that emphasizes safety, such as my book or the American Botanical Council’s ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs, or check out the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Anyone who calls herbs hazardous is totally misinformed. Every year the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) compiles statistics on accidental deaths from drugs, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements. The AAPCC’s most recent report (2008) records 1,756 accidental poisoning deaths. How many were attributable to medicinal herbs? Zero. In every accidental death caused by a pharmacological agent, the culprit was a pharmaceutical. And it’s been that way for many years. Herbs are safer than drugs.

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    University of Toronto researchers combed 30 years of medical literature (1966 to 1996) for reports of drug side effects in hospital patients. Extrapolating from the 39 most rigorous studies, they estimated that drug side effects kill an astonishing 106,000 U.S. hospital patients per year and cause 2.2 million serious, nonfatal problems. This makes drug side effects the nation’s fourth leading cause of death. The true number of drug-caused injuries is undoubtedly higher; this study focused solely on hospital patients, not the public. Note: These deaths didn’t result from medical errors; they occurred when drugs were administered as approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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    Unregulated? Before approving new drugs, the FDA requires drugmakers to prove them safe and effective. Such tests aren’t required of herbs, leading to claims that herbs are unregulated and, by implication, unsafe. But as we’ve seen, the supposedly stringent regulation of drugs hasn’t kept them from causing great harm.

    In addition, preapproval studies typically involve only a few thousand people. Many side effects — some serious — only turn up in one user in 10,000 to 50,000, or more. These problems don’t emerge until the drug is widely used by people unaware that they are guinea pigs. Because so many new side effects turn up during the five years after approval, the FDA requires drugmakers to rewrite the warning labels of half of new drugs. Yes, drugs are regulated more stringently than herbs, but regulation doesn’t guarantee safety. Hundreds of studies show that, when compared head-to-head with herbs, drugs almost always cause more side effects. The vast majority of medicinal herbs have been used for centuries, standing the test of time.

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    Not as strong? Dose for dose, yes, herbs aren’t as strong as drugs. Willow bark contains a natural form of aspirin, but the standard dose (1 to 2 cups of tea or 1 to 2 teaspoons of tincture) doesn’t relieve pain as well as a standard dose of aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen (Aleve). As a result, critics dismiss herbs as medicinal wimps. Rather than herbs being too weak, many drugs are too strong, causing side effects ranging from annoying to insufferable. Do no harm is the first axiom of medicine. This means that treatment should begin at the lowest possible effective dose. Why use a bulldozer if a broom suffices? Herbs should be prescribed first. Only those who truly need stronger medicine should use drugs, which cost more and have a greater risk of side effects. Unfortunately, American medicine does the opposite. Doctors prescribe drugs first, and only when the drugs are intolerable do some doctors suggest herbs. We don’t need medicine that’s stronger. We need medicine that’s smarter. For many common ills, herbs are cheaper and smarter.

    Use Plenty of Herbs and Spices. There are many incredibly healthy herbs and spices out there. For example, ginger and turmeric both have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, leading to various health benefits. You should make an effort to include as many different herbs and spices as you can. Many of them can have powerful beneficial effects on your health.

    If you’d like to try herbs instead of drugs, our Herbal Remedies for Common Ailments chart is a good place to start. These herbs have been included because of the strong clinical evidence of their efficacy.

    Medicinal herbs can provide natural, safer remedies to dozens of common ailments. This chart shows you more than 75 herbal remedies that do just that. For more information about herbal remedies, check out 75 Safe and Effective Herbal Remedies .

    As with any health issue, always be sure to talk to your doctor before trying a new medicine — including herbal medicines — or other remedy. In conjunction with a discussion with your primary healthcare provider, you can find more safety and usage information on the herbs below in Micheal Castleman’s The New Healing Herbs and in Dr. James A. Duke’s book, Dr. Duke’s Essential Herbs.

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    Ailment

    Herb

    Acne Calendula, aloe, tea tree Alcoholism Evening primrose, kudzu Allergy Chamomile Alzheimer’s disease Ginkgo, rosemary Angina Hawthorn, garlic, willow, green tea Anxiety and stress Hops, kava, passionflower, valerian, chamomile, lavender Arteriosclerosis Garlic Arthritis Capsicum, ginger, turmeric, willow, cat’s claw, devil’s claw Asthma Coffee, ephedra, tea Athlete’s foot Topical tea tree oil Attention-deficit disorder Evening primrose oil Bad breath Parsley Boils Tea tree oil, topical garlic, echinacea, eleutherococcus, ginseng, rhodiola Bronchitis Echinacea, pelargonium Burns Aloe Cancer Bilberry, blackberry, cocoa (dark chocolate), green tea, garlic, ginseng, maitake mushroom, pomegranate, raspberry, reishi mushroom Cankers Goldenseal Colds Echinacea, andrographis, ginseng, coffee, licorice root (sore throat), tea (nasal and chest congestion) Congestive heart failure Hawthorn Constipation Apple, psyllium seed, senna Cough Eucalyptus Depression St. John’s wort Diabetes, Type 2 Garlic, beans (navy, pinto, black, etc.), cinnamon, eleutherococcus, flaxseed, green tea Diabetic ulcers Comfrey Diarrhea Bilberry, raspberry Diverticulitis Peppermint Dizziness Ginger, ginkgo Earache Echinacea Eczema Chamomile, topical borage seed oil, evening primrose oil Fatigue Cocoa (dark chocolate), coffee, eleutheroccocus, ginseng, rhodiola, tea Flu Echinacea, elderberry syrup (also see “Colds”) Gas Fennel, dill Giardia Goldenseal Gingivitis Goldenseal, green tea Hay fever Stinging nettle, butterbur Herpes Topical lemon balm, topical comfrey, echinacea, garlic, ginseng High blood pressure Garlic, beans, cocoa (dark chocolate), hawthorn High blood sugar Fenugreek High cholesterol Apple, cinnamon, cocoa (dark chocolate), evening primrose oil, flaxseed, soy foods, green tea Hot flashes Red clover, soy, black cohosh Impotence Yohimbe Indigestion Chamomile, ginger, peppermint Infection Topical tea tree oil, astragalus, echinacea, eleutherococcus, garlic, ginseng, rhodiola Insomnia Kava, evening primrose, hops, lemon balm, valerian Irregular heartbeat Hawthorn Irregularity Senna, psyllium seed Irritable bowel syndrome

    Take Care of your Body. It is very important to take care of our bodies when adopting a healthy lifestyle. Having good personal hygiene day-to-day will definitely make you feel better. Asides than your daily routine, you could even go to the spa to get pampered. If you are feeling tense and stressed, why not choose a therapeutic massage? After all, our bodies will be with us throughout our lives, so we need to take care of them and learn to love them for what they are.

    Chamomile, peppermint Lower back pain Thymol, carvacrol, white willow bark Menstrual cramps Kava, raspberry, chasteberry Migraine Feverfew, butterbur Morning sickness Ginger Muscle pain Capsicum, wintergreen Nausea Ginger Premenstrual syndrome Chasteberry, evening primrose Ringing in the ears Ginkgo Seasonal affective disorder St. John’s wort Shingles Capsicum Sore throat Licorice, marshmallow, mullein Stuffy nose Echinacea Tonsillitis Goldenseal, astragalus, echinacea Toothache Willow, clove oil Ulcers Aloe, licorice Varicosities Bilberry, horse chestnut Yeast infection Garlic, goldenseal, Pau D’arco Michael Castleman is one of the nation’s leading health writers, according to Library Journal.
    Published on Mar 22, 2021

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