It’s important to be aware of both sides of the story before embarking on a course of treatment, regardless of whether the treatment is considered natural or pharmaceutical. In this post I will be discussing the pros and cons of using natural herbal supplements.
Advantages of Natural Herbal Supplements
The advantages of herbal supplements and medicines are many and include the following:
They are cheap.
Have you checked your medical bills for the past year? Add up all that you paid the pharmacist for prescription and over-the-counter medications. Is the number looking scary? If so, and if you have been using conventional medicine for small problems like common cold and stomachaches then perhaps it is time you considered herbal medicine. It might give you a healthier wallet or purse besides a healthy body.
You Can Do It At Home.
Did you know that herbal medicine and supplements can be assembled in your own kitchen? There are thousands of herbal recipes available on the Internet. Just follow them like a recipe to bake a cake and there you are. Your medicine made by your own hand. If you have a garden you could even grown your own herbs. The convenience and the certainty of knowing just what you are ingesting is a huge advantage.
They Are Natural
Man has learned to do many things but nature continues to know more. So no matter how much noise the pharmaceutical companies make you should at least give some time to listening to nature and her own remedies. In many cases, the right natural treatment has been shown to be as effective as the pharmaceutical option, without the side effects.
Our bodies have evolved to deal with natural products, not synthetic compounds generated in a laboratory. Natural supplements include a smorgasboard of active chemicals, many of which work together to achieve an effect. Isolated compounds do not always work in the same way.
This is not to say that herbal treatments are completely harmless however. A number of nature’s products are extremely powerful and need to be treated with the utmost respect. Always do your research before self-medicating with herbs.
They Provide a Valuable Source of Nutrients
There was a time when food had to travel a very short distance. Grains arrived quickly from the farmer, milk and bacon came fresh from the milkman, most people had gardens to grow their own plants or space to browse for wild herbs. Those were the days without preservatives and fertilizers and it is possible that people were a lot healthier back then.
Today’s massive production tecnhiques and manufacturing pressures have inevitably resulted in poor handling and overuse of artificial preservatives. This enables food to remain edible long after much of the nutritional value has deteriorated.
As a result of this, a lot of the food that we eat today is lacking in important vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. No matter how healthy the label claims the food inside to be, fresh is fresh, and preservatives mean loss of food quality for the sake of profits.
A “normal” diet may leave you deficient in several important nutrients if it is not fresh.
And Lastly … They Are Effective
Herbal medicines, therapies, and supplements are nothing new. People have used them for centuries but it is only recently that western culture has rediscovered the wonders of herbs. In part, this was because the development of allopathic medicinal techniques in the west, combined with the lack of scientific support for non-conventional medicines, gave rise to an unsavoury (and quite wrong) reputation for herbal medicines and supplements.
Recent scientific discoveries have forced the medical community to reconsider the benefits of herbs. This has mostly come about with increasing exposure of western community to the healing techniques practiced in other cultures and countries. Many of these alternative practices have been proven to be more effective than, or at the least complimentary to, allopathic treatment.
So What Are the Disadvantages of Natural Herbal Supplements?
They Take Time to Work
Natural herbal treatments are just that – natural. They contain a mixture of active compounds, all in low concentration. For this reason, herbal remedies can take some time to work. They start working immediately, but with a “softly, softly” approach.
I agree that this can be undesirable in certain circumstances. However if the condition you are treating can be tolerated long enough, the natural herbal approach will generally cause far less damage to healthy tissue than pharmaceutical drugs.
They Are Not Specifically Targeted
When a new drug is developed, it is targeted specifically at particular treatment and/or tissue. Herbal remedies will have different effects on different tissues in the body, but they are not specifically targeted towards any one area.
They Are Not Standardized
Many natural remedies are dried and taken in the form of pills, capsules or powders. The advantage of this is that it allows a greater amount of the herb to be ingested than if you were to eat the fresh plant. However, the production process is often not regulated, providing products of varied quality and consistency.
What To Choose?
Whether you decide to go the herbal route or not depends on many factors.
- Do you like to be in control of your own health?
- Are you familiar with (or willing to learn about) herbal treatments, including effective dosages and possible side-effects?
- How serious is the condition you need to treat, and how long can you wait for it to be resolved?
- What are the side effects of any allopathic treatment?
- How far along has the condition progressed? natural treatments work better if started early.
Don’t go the natural route simply because you vaguely believe it is “better”. In many cases it is, but there are times when you will want to make use of modern medicine’s amazing arsenal of pharmaceutical weapons. A minor infection can easily and effectively be treated naturally, but major conditions such as widespread sepsis really need something a little stronger.
Consider the above and weigh up your options. Do your research and don’t hesitate to take advice from natural healing practitioners such as naturopaths. The books below provide some excellent information on the topic of herbal remedies. Just remember that ultimately the decision is yours – choose wisely!