Are Herbal Remedies Safe?
Many people are skeptic when it comes to using herbal remedies. This is because there has not been enough research done into the world of alternative medicines available naturally to us. This is changing with many people now investigating the different beneficial properties of plants, side effects and the safety limits. If used properly, herbal remedies can be as safe or safer than prescription drugs.
Safety considerations when using herbal remedies
It is very important to know how to acquire and use herbs properly. This will ensure that you get the maximum or complete healing effect from the plant. The herbal remedy must be prepared using the proper method for the intended purpose. The same herb may be useful for different purposes based on the method of preparation but also may be rendered useless or harmful if it is not prepared correctly. Many injuries have resulted from incorrect preparation of herbal remedies due to ignorance or misuse of herbs. It is always wise to consult your GP before using herbal remedies, especially if you are on medications or have other illnesses or pregnant.
Safety Tips for Harvesting and Storing Herbs
- Get all the facts of the herb you are trying to procure.
- Do not harvest a lot plants from areas that do not have the plant species in large quantities. This will diminish your chances of finding the same plant there again. Preserve the species.
- Observe the color, size, shape etc. of the plant and its leaves to ensure that it is the correct plant.
- Many plants look alike but there are some identifiable differences. For example, ensure that the plant is blooming or growing at the correct time of the year and in the correct natural habitat.
- Harvest plants from areas that are free of toxins in the soil and air, at least that you can see. For example, if there is a sewage or bauxite plant nearby, it would not be wise to harvest a plant form that area.
- When harvesting from damp areas or underwater habitats, it is likely that the plants will be infected with harmful pathogens. Therefore, consider sterilizing before use.
- Remember to store plants in a clean container or dry plants away from moisture to avoid fungal and bacterial growth.
- Always label your herbs after harvesting to prevent incorrect and possibly deadly usage.
When buying herbs, ensure that there are no molds present on the plants and ensure that the herbs are packaged properly. Always read the labels for expiry date, cautions, warnings, drug interactions and contraindications.
Dosage Safety Tips
- Ensure that the correct dosages are used to make the remedy as recommended by a book or herbal doctor. Do not use your own judgement and add more plants because you think it will work faster! You might OD similar to using pharmaceuticals.
- Dried herbs are useful for obtaining a concentrated component of the herb. It also allows the plant to be stored for a longer period without accumulating pathogens. A smaller proportion of dried herb will be needed than fresh herbs for a certain remedy. Therefore, ensure that you read the instructions of the herbal remedy carefully to see if dried or fresh herb was mentioned. Using dried herbs instead of fresh herbs in similar proportions may lead to an overdose.
- It is important to have the correct measuring instruments and know the conversions for each measurement to prevent overdose or low dosage.
- Ensure that the remedy is taken in the correct dosage in the time specified. Do not take more than what was recommended. Be aware of the toxic dose of the remedy you are taking.
- People with certain co-morbid conditions may need to take larger or smaller doses than what was recommended in a book or on the internet. Therefore, if you have other illnesses, first consult your doctor.
- Be aware of the differences in dosage recommended for different age groups. Children and elderly people are especially sensitive to dosage changes.
Allergic Reaction to herbs
Always be vigilant for allergic reactions. Especially when trying a type of herb for the first time. Take small doses of any remedy that contains a plant component that you are using for the first time. Only try one new plant at a time. Note however that it might take several exposures to an allergen before an allergic reaction develops. It is important to know how to identify the early indications of an allergic reaction and get help promptly to prevent serious injuries or death. Here are the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
- Swelling of the hands, feet, lips, face, or throat
- Skin blistering or painful skin
- Pain or irritation of the moist lining of the mouth, eyes, or vagina
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain
- Wheezing, or chest tightness
- Hoarseness of the voice or coughing
- Flushing of the skin
Using herbs during Pregnancy
All pregnant women should be cautious when using herbal remedies whether topically, orally or otherwise. Unborn babies are very sensitives to certain components, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. Therefore, always consult your doctor before using herbal remedies during pregnancy.
NEVER SUBSTITUTE OR SUPPLEMENT YOUR DOCTOR’S PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION WITH HERBAL REMEDIES WITHOUT THE GUIDELINES AND AGREEMENT OF YOUR DOCTOR.