The Five Most Important Things You Need to Know About Herbs

Hey — I promised you this blog a while ago. There are the five, but I still maintain it’s the 6th that’s most important. The blog I put up first when I should have put up this one.

You’ve heard about how herbs are powerful and beneficial and you want to know more.  Here are the five most important things you need to know about herbs:

1:  Parsley and basil are not herbs.  Well, parsley and basil are herbs, but they’re not the only herbs.  When we talk about herbs and herbal medicine, we’re talking about any plant or part of a plant that can be used to benefit health.  Ginger roots, aloe leaves, bark of the huge rainforest tree pau d’arco, and elder berries all can be used for therapeutic purposes and qualify as “herbs.”  More than 2,000 herbs are used medicinally today, all over the world.   

2:  Herbs have been safely used for thousands of years to improve health and heal disease.  Through observation and trial and error, cultures all over the world have gathered a vast body of knowledge regarding the power of herbs to create health.  Much of this information has been passed down to us through Western Herbalism, Ayurvedic Herbalism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  About 80 % of the world’s population still use herbal remedies as part or even all of their primary health care. While the properties of herbs have been studied by scientists for hundreds of years, indigenous cultures continue to pass along invaluable herbal knowledge from one generation to the next. It includes which parts of plants are beneficial and how to prepare them; whether to boil, steep, or crush, to access their medicinal properties. 

3.  Herbs are used to improve almost any area of health. This includes everything from mood swings to blood pressure, from exhaustion to lactation.  For example, aloe gel is used to heal sunburn; St. John’s Wort is used to treat minor depression; ginger can reduce pregnancy-related nausea; and chasteberry can reduce menstrual problems.  A typical herb book will list hundreds of conditions that herbs can treat.

4.  Many of our prescription drugs are based on herbal substances.  For example, ephedra is an herb that has long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat respiratory problems.  Ephedrine is the active ingredient in ephedra, and ephedrine is the basis for many commercial pharmaceutical products medicating asthma and other respiratory problems.  In addition, approximately 25% of prescription drugs used today has an herbal component. Many of our cancer, heart and other wonder drugs are originally from herbs, especially rainforest herbs. 

5.  Herbs are safe.  But don’t confuse safe with harmless.   Bread, chicken, and mushrooms are also safe—if the bread is not moldy, the chicken is not spoiled, and the mushrooms are not gathered ignorantly off the forest floor.  When you take herbal supplements, be sure to know what you’re doing.  Talk to your doctor and understand that herbal remedies may interfere with prescription drugs.  This doesn’t mean herbs are dangerous—it just means they do in fact, affect your body.  Since you’re taking herbs to help you heal , it is good indeed that they impact your body.

This is just a general primer on herbs.  If you’re interested in taking herbal supplements, there are many sites available for learning about specific ailments and the herbs that help them.  Both alternative and conventional medicine sites can give you information.  Just remember: herbs can help you; do your research; and talk to your doctor.  Don’t earn herbs a bad rap!  When herbs are taken properly for the power they hold, they just may make you feel better than you’ve ever felt in your life.



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