Spiritual Wellness Information
Working with Herbs in a good way.

Using Herbal Medicines, by Neva J. Howell

I have studied herbology for many years now. I love the energy of herbal medicines. I have grown to trust the wisdom of nature and look to natural medicines for almost every health challenge I might face.

Sometimes the remedy will be homeopathic or nutritional but often, an herbal medicine will do the trick and restore me to balance.

If you have a medical condition, please note that the following information is, in no way, to be construed as a substitute for any needed medical attention. Personally, I would only see a doctor when I have an acute condition that has progressed past the point where natural medicines would have time to work, or if there is an injury requiring surgical intervention, or if I just don't know what is wrong and need diagnostic testing.

Yet, I certainly don't suggest this avenue with anyone who isn't aware of the dangers of selftreatment and willing to be self-responsible. Each person has to decide how they want to approach their health care.

Using Herbs Effectively

Working with herbs is a wonderful journey into natural health and wellness that, when approached with respect, responsibility and a sense of exploration can yield dividends for the rest of your days. I hope that you explore this amazing field in more depth and feel free to contact me with any specific questions.

Of course, this information is given strictly for educational purposes and not intended to replace any current medical treatment you may have chosen. I believe herbs provide a viable supplementation to traditional medicines and, for some like myself, are the preferred method of treatment. We're all adults here. Make wise choices; chices which work for you. Self treatment requires self-responsibility and monitoring. Don't try it if you aren't willing to explore, expand and learn what may now be new to you.

Something to remember about natural medicines as opposed to prescription drugs is that more time is typically required to see results. Healing, the natural way, goes to the core of the problem where much of Western Medicine deals with the cessation of symptoms. To the Naturopath, symptoms are seen as clues to the problem of origin, and not as something to be treated but to be monitored as treatment progresses. Of course, in some cases, temporary relief of symptoms is called for, if one has to work or cannot afford to take time off to let the body do it's job of naturally dealing with imbalances. The problem in our society is that we've begun to depend on the "quick fix" of the antacid, the headache remedy, the sleeping pill, or the nerve pill, instead of dealing with the core imbalances.

Self-monitoring - Start with a low dosage when trying new herbals

Whenever I decide to take a new substance into my body system, for the purpose of healing or correcting some condition, I understand that I have decided to self-medicate. This is my right, and it is also my responsibility. I have come to realize that any substance at all can cause an allergic reaction (many people are allergic to peanut butter, wheat, milk, and other common foods, for example), and that the most important time for paying attention is the first three days I add something new.

Some things I have learned to notice are my physical energy level, any changes in breathing, temperature, skin color, itching or rash-like symptoms, dizziness, and my mental/emotional state.

Determining whether or not to continue taking a formula has sometimes been a little tricky for me because when a person begins taking a detox formula, the symptoms of necessary internal cleansing can be the same as allergic reactions. The skin is our largest eliminatory organ and can respond to a big release of toxins by temporarily developing rash-like symptoms. Also, detoxing often does temporarily tax the entire system (due to toxins being released and having to be flushed out through the skin, liver, spleen, kidneys and colon and can create feelings of fatigue, depression, etc.

For me, the way to know for sure that whatever reactions I have are not allergic in nature is to start with a very low dosage and work my way up to the recommended dosage. By starting with a very low dosage -- too low for rapid detox to be a factor -- at least, for 2-3 days, I can eliminate allergic reaction and side effects as reasons for any symptoms. For example, if I were to take a tincture, and the dosage was 15 drops three times a day, I might start with five drops, once a day. Then, after a day or two, I increase to two times daily, then three. I only increase dosage after I have reached three doses per day. I do this because the efficiency of the medicine is in great part dependent on the medicine being in the system continually. Until I get up to three doses a day, that doesn't happen. After I'm sure the continual dose is not causing a problem, then I feel it is safe to increase. This method is one I choose to employ mainly when taking those formulas containing many herbs or those designed for heavy detox. Single herbs have rarely posed a problem for me.

Give natural medicines time to work

Herbs definitely take longer to create relief of some symptoms and conditions than some of their pharmaceutical counterparts.

Look at all the antacids, for example. All offer near-instant relief and some even promise to stop heartburn BEFORE it starts; yet, none of them promise to eliminate the condition that is causing the heartburn to keep coming back.

The big difference between those types of products and herbal medicines is the focus. The focus of herbal medicine is to create a healthy environment in the body system, rebuild, cleanse, and permanently heal.

The primary focus of "quick-fix" medicines is to relieve symptoms temporarily, such as pain, indigestion or depression.

Relieving distressing symptoms is not necessarily a bad thing. If I've got terrible heartburn, for example, quick relief can be very valuable and I won't hesitate to chew a few antacid tablets if I don't have time to make some nice ginger tea for the same effect.

However, if I fail to acknowledge that some imbalance of my total physical system, as well as some corresponding imbalance in my non-physical system (either mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually) is causing me to manifest the symptoms and continue to treat those symptoms without dealing with the causative factors, then simple heartburn will eventually turn into something far more serious.

To completely balance an chronic or very serious condition in the holistic, herbal way, may take six months to a year.

Usually, I see improvement within a week or so but each person's system is different so my advice would be to hang in there for at least a month or two (in the absence of allergic reactions, of course) before deciding that a certain regimen is not working for you.

Also, just because one herb doesn't work, please don't decide that none of them will. In fact, most drugs have far more potential for allergic reaction than full plant herbal preparations, by far. Each person's chemistry and metabolic make-up is unique. I'd keep trying until you find the right combination and dosage. Therein is an important key to cure.