HERBS DON'T WORK! Find Out Why!
So many times, I have heard people talk about how, when they have a health issue, they go and do a little research on the internet to try to find a natural remedy. It makes me CRAY, people! Here's the scenario: They have a health issue. They look it up on the 'net. They find an "herb" that will solve the problem for them, run off to (horrors) a big box store and grab the cheapest bottle of powdered herbal capsules they can find, give it a try for a few days, then proclaim in frustration, "Herb's don't work!" If you have ever wondered why herbal remedies aren't working for you, here are some potential reasons to consider.
First of all, herbs DO work. However, there are several factors that can affect how effective they are on each individual's body! If we take a look at the scenario above, we can break it down into the reasons why herbs may not work for a person.
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Reasons Why Herbs Don't Work
1) EXPECTATIONS: You Might be Expecting Herbs to Work Like Prescription or OTC (Over the Counter) Medications
OK. Just doing a little internet research to find an herb that will solve a health ailment DOES NOT (always) WORK. I'm just being straight with you, here. Herbs are NOT like pills. Herbs work gently and need more time to work on your body---but they do work much better and are generally far more successful in the long term because they help your body actually heal.
Our modern society has been brainwashed for the past 60 or so decades by the ever-growing Big Pharma Industry and Big Government into a mistrust of our traditional ancestral folk medicine and the "modern" perceived need for "the quick fix" a pill can provide.
So many people believe, because of their upbringing in the past recent several decades, that you just need to "take a pill" and you will be cured! In reality, in the great majority of cases, a pill often simply masks the underlying problem, and doesn't solve it at all.
Did you know that up until the early 20th century, people relied ONLY on herbal preparations to heal themselves? And that pharmacists of that time (my great-grandfather was one), actually created their own formulations to provide to their customers? Now, these days, thanks to Big Pharma and government "safety" controls, traditional folk herbalism is now looked upon with suspicion, if not downright mistrust...often bordering on contempt and even fear.
This is because herbal medicine and prescription medicine (and OTC's) are completely different, and we have so very sadly lost the understanding and use of the traditional medicines our ancestors used. What our grandmothers and great-grandparents knew to work has been thrown carelessly by the wayside.
In this modern day and age, people under the age of about 80 have been trained to simply go to the doctor and "get a pill" that will solve the problem. No longer are underlying causes and lifestyle changes, including using herbs, being addressed by most doctors. It's just easier to go take that pill (and prescribe it), right?
Here's a real life example (ME):
Because of a change in our teachers' insurance, we were all made to choose a primary physician (I have never had one). So I went to see this fine doctor (and he truly is a wonderful man). He diagnosed me with high blood pressure and proceeded to scare me into taking high blood pressure medication. But, sadly (or maybe thank goodness) it didn't work. So he adjusted it. Then I started to puff up by retaining water to the point I couldn't walk at the end of the day. So....now I was handed another prescription for diuretics.
And isn't this what often happens to people? They just go to the doctor, and take their daily pill or two (or ten). Oh, no! Now you have side effects from that/those pill(s) too? So, here: Take another pill to counteract those side effects!
My doctor actually wanted to have me start taking THREE different prescriptions! I finally said NO to all of it and went all natural, cold turkey. No way was I going to become one of those people on multiple medications...when I truly believe I can heal my body using natural methods.
When people understand how herbs work, give themselves and the herbs time to work, possibly make some life style changes, and have patience, it's pretty amazing how the human body can heal itself. Herbs are gentle, working to encourage the body to heal, and they work much more slowly. For me, that's ok.
For herbs to work for you, you truly have to understand the difference between herbal remedies and modern prescription pills.
***Note: Please be sure to research and discuss your health with medical professionals as well as obtaining your own knowledge. I am not a medical doctor, and I'm NOT advocating for you to do as I did. I am simply sharing my own personal story to show how herbs and medications work differently. I believe we are all in charge of our own health and bodies and it is up to us individually to take responsibility and to determine the amount of control we are willing to give others over our health. Please be sure to see a medical professional if you have questions, ....although I have to admit, my doctor had no idea about the herbs and oils and the lifestyle changes I planned out for myself to solve my high blood pressure issue--he actually laughed at me. This short story is simply an example of how I decided to take responsibility for my own health issue.
Did I solve my high blood pressure issue? The answer is YES. I managed to get my blood pressure to a normal reading over a period of time (two months). It did take some work: exercise, eating right (no inflammatory foods and I followed a roughly Paleo diet), and lots of water! I also used my herbs and essential oils every single day, and I still do.
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2) Using the Incorrect Preparation of the Herb
There are different ways to prepare herbs, depending on the person and the situation. Sometimes taking powdered herbs in a capsule form is the best way to solve a problem, and other times, drinking a tonic tea several times a day over a period of weeks is better.
Sometimes using a tincture and using only a few drops or droppers full is the best way, and sometimes it's best to use an external rub, poultice, or salve. Knowing what kind of preparation to use for what kind of problem, as well as matching the preparation to the person is necessary for herbs to work well.
3) The Person's Individual Constitution is Not Taken Into Consideration
People have different constitutions. Basically, we can classify ourselves into hot, dry, moist, and cool constitutions in a quadrant. Therefore, knowing how your body behaves is of utmost importance when considering what herb or combination of herbs to use for a malady.
Here's an example: I personally have a hot, dry constitution. If I have a runny nose and sinus problem, for my type of body, I will choose cooling and moisturizing herbs. Using a vapor rub containing Peppermint and Eucalyptus (cooling) etc. as well as drinking a tea containing Mullein and Marshmallow (moisturizing and soothing for inflammation) is best for my body.
For a person who has a cool, moist constitution, however, using a decongestant containing Ginger, Onion, and Cayenne infused Honey, taken internally, may work better to gently open up those sinuses, while drinking a more astringent type tea might help dry up that runny nose better.
Everyone has a different kind of body and reacts differently to different herbs. Knowing your own body type (and your family's) is extremely important when choosing which herbs to use for what condition.
When using herbs, there are lots of options---and you'll want to choose the best herbs for each individual.
4) Poor Quality of Herb....and Even Adulteration of Commercial Herbs
Just like anything else, quality of the herb matters.
I'll never forget the time I needed some dried Plantain, as I had let mine run out. There's an herb shop in our large city, so I went in to pick up a couple of ounces since I couldn't wait a day for my online order to arrive. So when I received the Plaintain I had ordered from my online bulk herb supplier, I couldn't help but compare the two.
The herbs I had purchased from the shop were brownish, dry, and obviously stale. The Plantain I received from my normal online supplier was bright green and fresh tasting. The difference was SO obvious, and I was truly disgusted at the quality I had received from the shop in town. I haven't been there since, and now I make sure not to let my important herbs run out. Mostly, if I can, I grow my own herbs, especially the ones I rely on the most.
Another issue that is related to poor quality is the potential adulteration or even mislabeling of herbs you buy commercially.
There have been cases where herbs in stores have been tested, and it's been discovered that the St. John's Wort you think you are buying (as an example) turns out to be alfalfa or something else. Therefore, it's VERY important to be able to trust the source of your herbs. Growing, drying, and preparing you own is always best, but if you can't, then purchase your herbs from a reputable source.
5) You Might be Using the Incorrect Dosage
The amount of tincture I might need is going to be slightly different than the amount for my husband and definitely for my grand child. Knowing how much to take and how often to take it is of vital importance.
If you are new to herbs and are using "safe" herbs, then it's fine to play around with different amounts and preparations to see what works best for you! For children, please be VERY conservative. In general, about 1/4 the dose for an adult is generally fine for children 2-5. For children 5-12, use about 1/2 the dose as adults.
6) Poor Blending (Formulation)
Blending herbs for specific needs is a science and an art. Closely related to understanding an individual's constitution (see above) is knowing how herbs interact with one another and how to use herbs to make sure they work as well as they can.
When blending a tea for an ailment, I choose one or two of the primary herbs--these are the herbs that will have the most effect on the malady. Then I'll use a secondary herb (or herbs) that enhance the effect of the primary herb(s). Finally, I'll add a stimulating herb. These are not stimulating like caffeine, but they do stimulate the action of the other two categories of herbs. Herbs such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, rosemary, etc. are stimulating-type herbs.
For example, a good tea blend for supporting the liver will contain primary herbs such as Nettle, Burdock, Dandelion; a secondary herb such as Calendula; and finally a stimulating herb like Peppermint. Knowing the proportions of each that are best to use is also important to know.
Have you ever wanted to learn about herbalism? How to be a family herbalist? Or how to help others and yourself using herbs? The New England Academy of Herbal Medicine is a great place to begin your herbal learning!
Final Thoughts on How to Make Herbal Remedies Work for You
Many people these days are wanting to "go natural," and solve their own health problems using more holistic remedies. Trust in the current medical and health system in our country has eroded in the past few decades and with good reason. Especially with typical illnesses like the common cold and allergies, herbal medicine is extremely safe and useful and can create healing systems in your body rather than dependence on a chemical pharmaceutical.
The bottom line is that you need to do your due diligence. Learn as much as you can. Experiment and try safe herbal remedies. Seek advice from herbalists and people who use herbs. If you have elders in your family who are aware of using plant medicine, talk to them! Don't let that knowledge die out!
I hope this article was helpful to you, and that you'll consider trying learn about and use herbs over time to help solve basic illnesses and improve your overall health. If you are interested in some tea blends that could be very helpful for you, you might want to start with these articles: How to Make Tea for the Sniffles, Herbs for Detoxing, Happiness Tea, and my eBook on How to Blend Your Own Herbal Teas for Pleasure & Health!
Hugs and Self-Reliance!
P.S. If you want to know where you can purchase quality herbs at a great price with wonderful customer service and quick shipping--I use Starwest Botanicals, almost exclusively.
P.S.S. If you enjoyed this article, I hope you will sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter and never miss a thing! You'll also receive my free gift to you: My eBook on How to Use Herbs to Relax in the Evening (get better sleep!).
Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional. All statements are my own opinion and are only based on years of experience and study. Please seek medical attention from a medical professional if you have health issues--especially acute or serious ones. In no manner, stated or implied, are any statements made by me in my blog or website meant to cure, diagnose, prevent, or treat any illness. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
This article was shared at these link up parties: The Homestead Hop, The Homesteader Hop, Grandma's DIY, Our Simple Blog Hop, and The Homestead Bloggers Network! Stop on by for lots of great simple life and homestead articles!