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Guide to Herbal Supplements

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You all have some great feedback here and I agree with you in that Dr.'s tend to shy away from herbs calling them hokey or worse and expounding on dangers. Of course there are dangerous herbs. But why is it we question herbs, but not the prescribed pill. As already stated there are so many side effects to modern medicines. How many have we seen in recent years approved by FDA only to be recalled because of severe side effects. That just goes to show enough money in the right pocket can do anything. I have been guilty of self medicating with herbs, and unfortunately didn't always get the results I wanted. At this point I would emphasize the importance of using quality herbal products and using them as suggested by a homeopath.

I have seen Cranberry tablets help my grandmother to not have a bladder infection every month (that is the only thing that changed, so easy for me to say it helped). I know myself that taking echinacea and zinc and magnesium with Vitamin Chas helped me ward off colds, I may begin to get one, but if I do my thing quickly, they never develop.

Thanks for not naysaying herbs altogether. Report
I would agreet that we need to be careful about what we put in our bodies. However, I have never had to be hospitalized or wean myself off an herb like I did with a prescription drug. A prescribed blood pressure med almost killed my hubby last Sept. Unfortunately, the doctors didn't listen to him when he repeatedly told him those pills were making him sick. Thank God he survived and lived to switch doctors. Report
It is very important that we research the prescription medication because there are so many side effects. I remember my mother-in-law telling me years ago how prednisone somehow caused some of her and my sister-in-law ailments. I remember not wanting to take prednisone because I read somewhere that it could trigger diabetes. I had to take it for a short time on two different occasions and it made me out of control with my eating. I am a Type II diabetic now. So I now make it my business not to take medication that have side effects that will produce more ailments than I started with. Report
I have been on both sides of the fence: the medical field and as a hebal supplement user ( who went from a size 20 to a size 12 in 4 months and now in a comfortable size 10!) those results I have maintained for 6 1/2 years and counting, but people do need to be careful with what they consume and don't let anyone be in control of your health more than you. My doctor was estatic I lost the weight, but upset that I used supplements to help. Report
I have been on both sides of the fence: in the medical field and as a herbal supplement taker (who by the way went from a size 20 to a size 12 in 4 months and now enjoying a comfortable size 10!). Those results have been maintained for 6 1/2 years and counting, but people need to be careful in what they consume and don't leave your health in anyone elses hands. Report
I always think it is interesting when people act like herbs are such a thing to stay away from but will pop a pill their doctor prescribes in an instant. There are so many side effects from prescription drugs, it is crazy. And the doctors seemingly love to push these as safe. What about Vioxx?? Phen-fen, etc. I never had a weight problem at all until I started on a prescription and it changed my whole body. I say be careful with both, but prescriptions kill many, many more people and cause the most serious side effects. Report
After reading other people's comments I have one more thing to add, and that is that it is also not necessarily a good idea to take whatever medicine your Western doctor tells you to take without doing some research. As others have pointed out, drug companies send reps into medical offices and the reps are the ones who provide most of the info the doctors have on whether a given drug can cause adverse reactions, etc.--at least until OVERWHELMING evidence comes to them from other channels (such as dying patients, for example).

I had a life-threatening reaction to Azithromycin, a commonly prescribed synthetic antibiotic in the Macrolide family, used for upper respiratory tract infections. The reaction produced a chronic hypersensitivity condition, and I was put on Prednisone (yet another nasty drug) in relatively high doses for close to a year before I slowly returned to my normal, healthy state of being.

When I asked the doctor if my condition, which he admitted was a hypersensitivity reaction "of some kind," was because of the drug, he said, "oh, no--there have been no reports of reactions to this drug." Just the same, I asked him to test me for a reaction, and guess what he said? Well, he said they can't test for a reaction to that drug because there is no test available. So I guess that explains why no reactions have been reported!

Anyway, I did my own research and it turns out *all kinds* of people are trying to report reactions to this drug, and their doctors are all telling them that it must be something else. Then, get this, in the forums where the doctors talk to each other, they are all asking each other if their patients' reactions might be from Azithromycin, and the overwhelming response is "No, it couldn't be, because my drug rep tells me there have been no reactions to that drug.'!!

So in other words, better to get your facts from several sources before compiling the results and putting some unknown substance into your body--even if your doctor says it's great. Report
Thank you once again for bringing together much of the research into one comprehensive source. My partner, a Chinese American, has somewhat of a cultural predeliction for trusting and turning to herbalists in times of medical uncertainty, and I have found myself often in the position of needing some kind of evidence to support my right to decline to take unknown herbs when I'm sick. Of course, he would not force me to do anything, but couples do end up having to provide each other reasons for their behavior, so it helps to have some backup for not wanting to take mystery pills, teas, etc. Report
Great information!!! Thank you! Report
Even though there are plenty of herbal products that do not have "double blind placebo controlled" studies to back them, the key word here is YET. Since there is money to be made in isolating the active ingredients from nature, creating a synthetic model in combination with a base and patenting it, more companies are investing in these trials. The results of these tests aren't always published, as there is no advantage for the company doing the research to publish them.

Many drugs are produced this way... antibiotics from molds, hormones like premarin and synthroid, diet drugs like starch blockers taken from beans, and countless other preparations taken from nature, isolated, combined with a base and patented.

Its excellent advice to check out any herb before you buy it. Put the name of the herb in Google along with things like "pub med" or " research papers" or "clinical studies" or "double blind tests" or even "wikipedia". My rule, is that any site is selling an herb, is not exactly unbiased... so I factor that into my decision. I also run a "side effects" search.

Who wants to pay for and put something in your body without knowing if it works? I sure don't! Report
Valerian--boo. During my long years of battling insomnia, I tried valerian. It DID leave me with heavy morning drowsiness, just as codeine would. Herbal remedies are NOT necessarily "gentle & natural"; you do have to be careful. Report
I work at a hospital/clinic., Out of 15 doctors & 2PA`s & 2Np`s there is only one that will try
herbs -- We have drug reps. coming thru the doors all day long pushing this and that.
Have YOU ever read the SIDE EFFECTS of the drugs??? YIKES - Are they helping or hurting??? Report
This is a good starting point for a discussion on herbal remedies.

The reason that herbal remedies do not have scientific data to back the claims is that there is no money in herbal remedies for the drug companies, so they don't conduct studies on these remedies -- even though most medicines are based on herbal compounds. However, caution is required as a lot of herbal remedies are not regulated, and you should go to a naturopath to ensure you are taking the right combination and strength.

Linda B
I think this was a great article. Most people do not realize that a lot of prescription drugs are forulated from herbs, so you can be prescribing for yourself by using these. Please, Please always tell your Dr. whatever across the counter herbs or drugs you are using.
Thanks for the good information! Report
Good information but it is time for an update "Article created on: 10/26/2005" Report

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