Top 12 Guidelines to Follow When Using Herbal Supplements
supplement herbal supplements have enjoyed a surge of popularity during recent years in the United States, they have been very popular in Europe, particularly in Germany, for decades. The practice of using herbs dates back thousands of years. For the better part of the 19th century, medicines dispensed by most American pharmacies were derived from plants and other natural substances including some, such as St.John’s Wort and echinacea, that are becoming popular again in the late 20th century. Today in America, conventional drug manufacturers are adding herbal ingredients to their supplement herbal supplements products to satisfy consumer demand. It’s easy to find laxatives with senne, and multivitamin tablets with ginseng and ginkgo Biloba. The rediscovery of these ancient treasures, however, should be tempered with modern scientific analysis. It’s important to remember that supplement herbal supplements are not required to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA as the authority to remove these products from the market if they are not safe, but the FDA does not regulate how herbal dietary supplements enter the market in the same way that it regulates prescription and nonprescription medications.
The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) defines “dietary supplements” as including herbal ingredients and outlines what types of health-benefit claims manufacturers can make about them. To claim a supplement herbal supplements, the manufacturer must have substantiation for the claim and must notify the FDA of the claim being made within the first 30 days of marketing the supplement. If a “statement of nutritional support” is made, the following notice must be part of the product’s label: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”
Many popular herbals are receiving research attention from scientists. Multiple clinical studies of these three, for example, have indicated that they can be effective if used correctly. Remember not to self-diagnose when using any herbal products and check with your doctor or pharmacist about the long-term use of any supplement herbal supplements.
Top 12 Guidelines to Follow When Using Herbal Supplements
1. Always take herbs with plenty of water (at least 8 oz.). Some supplements must be taken with food or before meals. (Some people feel that taking supplements before, rather than after meals, “settles” better. Also remember that a good way to aid digestion at mealtime is to sip herbal tea rather than drinking lots of ice water, etc.).
2. Herbs should be taken two hours before or after any medication. (Medicine can damage the herbs).
3. Never stop taking important medications except on the advice of a physician. (Over time, the body will often improve to the point that your doctor will want you to decrease the dosage).
4. Sometimes it is best to initiate an herbal program slowly by starting with one product at a time, building to the desired amounts so as not to overwhelm the body. (Some people can progress more rapidly than others). Once the desired amount of a nutrient is reached, the body has what it needs to work toward healing. Gradually, the needed action will take place in the body, and some supplements can be decreased or deleted from the program. Occasionally, some people will need increased amounts of some supplements, and others may need some supplements for years (on a maintenance schedule). But often, once the body is brought back to a better state of health (a state of balance) the need for supplements decreases.
5. Stick with your herbal program. Take herbs faithfully. They won’t work if left on the shelf. Expect some changes in the body as it begins to heal. Herbs help the body to cleanse or build itself or both. As old toxins begin to leave the body, they are eliminated through four places or “chimneys”: The skin, the respiratory system, the bowels, and the urinary system. You can expect some minor changes in any or all these areas.
6. Natural healing may temporarily aggravate symptoms. Some people may experience a “healing crisis” along the way as the problems are worked out of the body. Many medications mask or stop symptoms and may only add to the problem here – or even create new problems. Certainly, medications have their place when necessary, but if there is a more natural way, I prefer to try a natural way first. A good example of how the body works is seen in the natural response to food poisoning. The body will initiate vomiting and/or diarrhea to get rid of the poison ingested. Provided this doesn’t progress to the point of dehydration, etc., these normal body actions are good and helpful; they eliminate harmful substances ingested.
7. Remember, repressing symptoms with a drug (which is another toxin) only hinders the body’s natural healing process. Certain herbs can be given to help draw the initial poison from the body, at which point the symptoms will stop because they are no longer needed. Of course, if the case is serious, a physician’s care should be sought. (Since I believe the best doctor for me is within me).
8. Replenishing fluids and strong, fast-acting antibiotics can be lifesaving in such situations. But again, symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea) are initiated by the body to expel harmful substances so that more serious problems don’t occur. Whenever considering the symptoms of a disease, remember, the symptoms aren’t the bad guys. With the common cold, for example, the body’s way of dealing with this disease is a runny nose, cough, or low-grade fever. The goal of herbal therapy is to help your body cleanse and heal naturally by bringing a symptom to fruition and getting the original irritating substances out of the body. The “name” of a particular disease is not as important as understanding which system of the body needs to be cleansed and/or built. Another example of this would be a pain. Nobody enjoys experiencing pain. But pain is our friend, telling us when something is wrong or when to quit doing something. Taking a drug that deadens nerves to the point that we no longer feel the pain does nothing to help the original problem. The drug only masks the pain and begins a cycle of new problems within the body.
9. Be patient. Don’t expect instant change. Building new cells takes time. The body doesn’t get to a particularly low point overnight – and it doesn’t get well overnight. People have become accustomed to instant fixes. We have to be committed to getting better at the pace our bodies set. Some people feel changes (more energy, etc.) within a few days of beginning an herbal program. Chronic problems may take much longer. In natural healing, the time required for the human body is a minimum of three months plus one month for every year you have been sick. So don’t get discouraged. Be aware of each sign of progress that the body makes as it works toward healing.
10. Keep in mind that herbs themselves don’t “do” the healing. They simply “feed” the body the nutrients it needs, and then the life force within us – the body itself – does the healing. Natural healing begins from the inside out, and the top-down, so that a typical disease process may appear reversed. Also, we don’t expect to see a straight upward progression in the way we feel. We usually continue in a generally upward direction – dropping back occasionally, but usually not back. (If all the right things are being done to feed the body, etc., and no progress is made, one might look for emotional causes underlying the problems). Keep in mind, however, taking supplements is only part of the answer.
11. Taking herbs is usually more beneficial if you work on only one or two health problems at a time. Focus on the most grievous problem first – some other problems may go away as the original problem is eliminated. Also, avoid taking too many herbs at once. Take care to choose herbs whose actions do not cancel each other.
12. Here are some additional factors that may contribute to good health:
- Quality and quantity of sleep
- Emotional well-being, including a positive attitude and outlook on life, relieving extreme stresses when possible, and releasing anger and resentment (factors that sometimes block the efforts of the body to heal itself).
- Drinking pure water
- Eating a diet rich in natural foods; cutting down on white and refined sugars, white flour, dairy products (especially milk), alcohol, caffeine, fats, foods with additives, etc. and increasing the number of raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts, etc. in the diet.
- Becoming more aware of the subtle ways our bodies tell us when foods and actions are good for us and when they aren’t.
- Becoming spiritually stronger – remember, it is scientifically proven that prayer and meditation have a positive effect on healing.