Herbalism Archive

  • 4 Effective Herbal Teas for Relaxation

    What better way to de-stress at the end of a long day, than with a hot cup of herbal tea?

    In our fast-paced society, dealing with stress has become a normal part of everyday life. While it may be impossible to completely eliminate stress from your lifestyle, there are certain ways of managing stress which can help ensure that you remain in good health. Aside from prescription medications, many people turn to herbal remedies to help reduce stress. Here are a few of the most common anti-stress herbal teas.

    Note: Many of these herbs have not been examined by the FDA as official anti-stress remedies. This simply includes herbs that are popular anti-stress remedies. Always consult your physician before attempting to self-medicate with herbal remedies.

    Lavender

    Lavender is cited as being a calming, relaxing herb for helping to reduce stress. Lavender lotions, candles and aromatherapy infusions may all be used in addition to lavender tea for helping to de-stress.

    Kava Kava

    This south pacific herb has been used for thousands of years to treat stress and anxiety. It’s also cited as being an effective treatment for depression. Use caution when using Kava Kava for stress, since it may interact with other medications.

    St. John’s Wort

    This anti-depression herb is also often used as an anti-stress remedy. Many herbalists warn that St. John’s Wort takes around 30 days to be effective, which means you might want to combine St. John’s Wort tea with herbal supplements for maximum effectiveness.

    Chamomile

    Chamomile tea is sweet, calming and relaxing. Herbalists use it for helping to promote sleep and feelings of overall well-being. Chamomile is a delicate herb tea, and can be safely consumed before bedtime.

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  • Is herbal medicine safe?

    Herbal medicine (also called herbalism, phytotherapy, botanical medicine or herbology) is a method of medical treatment that relies primarily on the use of plants and plant extracts.

    Herbalism is commonly associated with other types of holistic health practices, such as aromatherapy and a holistic diet. Since the use of herbs is often called a “natural remedy”, many people believe it is inherently safe. However, many people often wonder – how safe is herbal medicine? Is it really the best option for caring for your health?

    It’s extremely difficult to accurately evaluate the true safety of herbal medicine as opposed to pharmaceutical medicine. There are several reasons for this:

    Inconsistent Quality

    Unfortunately, not all herbal supplements that are sold in world markets are of the same quality. Some of these herbs may have been treated with pesticides or may include “fillers” to cut the cost of production. Other herbs may not have been harvested properly, and may not include as many active compounds as a higher quality herb. In some cases, the wrong type of herb could be sold (for example, there are several different types of ginseng). Since there is not a standard quality for herbal supplements, it’s difficult to assess the safety of herbal medicine.

    Unreliable/Conflicting Studies

    A lot of debate around the safety of herbal medicine revolves around the unreliability of clinical studies. Some studies may not be viewed as a credible source, or may directly conflict with another study. For example, there have been several studies about Gingko Biloba, and its effects on brain function. While some studies report no change in brain function, other studies have discovered beneficial effects in the areas of memory and general cognitive function. Since both of these studies were from what could be called “reputable” sources, it’s nearly impossible to know which study had the correct conclusion.

    Propaganda

    It would be naive not to assume that there was a significant amount of propaganda on both sides of this debate. Does “Natural” really mean “Safe”? Are pharmaceutical drugs really safe? Which of these has the least instance of side effects? Since the nature of business – either the pharmaceutical business or the herbal business – is one of survival, it can be assumed that marketing material has been produced by both sides. For example, consider this news story – “Gingko Fails to Prevent Alzheimer’s” that was released by MSNBC. A further examination of the study reveals that it only tested 523 people, which could be debated is far too small of a testing group to come to such absolute results, much less release these results on major news networks as “fact”. If this is occurring, how can we trust any story that advocates herbs as being “safe” or “unsafe”?

    Conclusion

    As with any medication, treat herbal medicine with caution. Do your research, and talk to professionals about their opinion on certain herbal remedies. Many herbal remedies have been proven to be effective. However, make sure that your herbal medicine is from a good source, of good quality, and free of any additives, fillers or pesticides. By following these guidelines, you can greatly improve the safety of treating yourself with herbal remedies.

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  • Will NC senate bill 31 criminalize herbalists?

    Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about Senate Bill 31, which recently passed in North Carolina.

    People around the web have had huge reactions to this bill, especially on its vague generalizations that could criminalize herbal health practitioners. What’s this bill really saying? Will Senate Bill 31 really make being a herbalist a criminal offence?

    The Actual Text of the Bill

    Right now, here is an excerpt the text of the bill (which may be subject to change at any time, click here for the official text):

    “No person shall perform any act constituting the practice of medicine or surgery, as defined in this Article, or any of the branches thereof unless the person shall have been first licensed and registered so to do in the manner provided in this Article. Any person who practices medicine or surgery without being duly licensed and registered, as provided in this Article, the person shall not be allowed to maintain any action to collect any fee for such services. The person so practising without being duly licensed and registered shall be guilty of a Class I felony.”

    What Does This Mean?

    The language of this bill means potentially catastrophic consequences for herbalists and other holistic health practitioners. Essentially, it means that the government would be able to reign in all forms of medicine that are outside of their current control, including alternative health care options. To quote “Natural News” in their commentary about Senate Bill 31:

    “Senate Bill 31… essentially criminalizes the practice of unlicensed forms of medicine, which includes the work of many naturopaths, homoeopaths, herbalists, aromatherapists, and even some midwives in the state.”

    Many forms of alternative medicine aren’t able to be licensed in certain states since they aren’t recognized as being a “legitimate” form of medical practice. For many herbalists, it’s not even possible to get a license unless they have a medical degree from an “approved” school. To quote the Wikipedia article on medical licensing:

    “Only those with medical degrees from schools listed in the WHO Directory of Medical Schools or the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory are permitted to apply for medical licensure.

    Many herbalists receive training from other herbalists, which may be through educational studies and/or apprenticeships. It’s clear that these apprenticeships and other alternative studies would not be enough to grant a herbalist with a medical license. Before, this wasn’t a problem, since patients have the right to consent to put themselves under the care of a herbalist. Now, however, even if a herbalist has a consenting patient, they will be guilty of a Class I Felony if they attempt to practice holistic health care.

    What’s A Class I Felony?

    The felony classifications in each state are different, but a Class I Felony is the least severe type of felony in North Carolina. However, this means that those prosecuted under this bill would have an equal felony classification as people who sexually exploit children, burn crosses and make pornographic videos of their neighbours.

    Will the Other States Follow Suit?

    Perhaps the biggest question that many people outside of North Carolina are wondering, is, “Will my state be next?”. It’s impossible to predict what other states will do now that North Carolina has successfully passed such a controversial bill. If this is something that you’re concerned about, it’s recommended that you write to your state senators and voice your opinions.

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  • An introduction to herbalism

    Herbalism is an ancient practice that actually predates our recorded human history.

    Excavations of burial sites that are over 60,000 years old have suggested an early understanding of the use of herbs for medicine. As far as written records, Herbalism has been documented as far back as Sumerian practices, which took place 5,000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians also made use of medicinal herbs, including coriander, mint, opium and garlic. In the Old Testament, the cultivation of herbs for medicinal purposes is also mentioned. Documented history of herbalism in India dates back to 1900 B.C., which includes many of the herbs that are used in conventional herbal medicine.

    How Herbalism Works

    The principles of herbal medicine focus on enhancing biological functions to improve overall health and well-being. Herbal medicine may be used to treat existing health conditions or may utilize certain herbs to promote good health and longevity.

    During the process of evolution, many plants have developed the ability to synthesize certain types of chemical compounds. Some of these compounds have been found to have beneficial effects on humans, giving them the ability to treat certain diseases.

    The Difference Between Herbalism and New Age Medicine

    Many people mistakenly believe that herbalism is strictly confined to the boundaries of what’s known as “New Age” medicine. This is not entirely true. The “New Age” movement is defined as a “non-religious, Western spiritual movement”, which does indeed focus on holistic medicine (including herbalism) as well as other methods of healing. However, herbalism isn’t always associated with the other principles of New Age medicine, namely the spiritual aspects. While it’s true that some herbalists also employ spiritual beliefs, many herbalists practice only within the realms of scientific results-based medicine. Therefore, it’s extremely important not to simply dismiss herbalism if you don’t share a belief in “New Age” ideals.

    Herbalism vs. Pharmaceutical Drug Therapy

     

    There has been a long-standing debate over the question, “Which is better – Herbs or Drugs?”. However, this question entirely misses the point of herbal medicine. Ifan herb is used as a remedy for a health condition, and it contains components that directly influence biological functions, then this herb could be called “medicine”, in the current definitions of this term. We also call pharmaceutical drugs “medicine” for this same reason.

    If both herbs and pharmaceuticals are medicine, it then brings us to one of the most important distinctions between the two – safety.

    In reference to safety, it depends entirely on the herb or pharmaceutical being discussed. For example, many pain medications offered by the pharmaceutical industry have serious side effects. However, poppy (which is classified as an “herb”) is also used for pain, and can also have serious side effects if abused. As with any treatment method, it’s essential to thoroughly research

    Another important aspect to consider is how effective each treatment method is. As far as effectiveness, we only have the data that’s provided to us from clinical trials, which may or may not be accurate. Also, it’s a fact that there hasn’t been a lot of research done by medical professionals about many of the herbs employed in herbal medicine. In some cases, the studies that have been done contradict each-other. Is echinacea really good for your immune system? Does Ginkgo Biloba really help enhance memory? These questions have yet to be answered to the satisfaction of all medical experts, since many of the studies have found conflicting results.

     

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