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HERBAL REMEDIES

by admin - February 16th, 2011.
Filed under: Herbal.

Largely derived from Ayurvedic or traditional Chinese medicine, herbal medications now fill supermarket and pharmacy shelves across America. Fueled by mass advertising and promoted as part of multiple vitamin and mineral regimens by major drug manufacturers, herbal supplements represent the hottest trend in the health market. But do they have real benefits? We know that over-the-counter medications have been through rigorous testing to prove effectiveness. Herbal supplements, on the other hand, have not been measured by the same standards of efficacy. How do we know if the purported benefits are real?
To be a wise consumer of the great variety of herbal remedies available in health food stores and supermarkets, there are a few things you should know. Tinctures (extracts of fresh or dried plants) usually contain a high percentage of grain alcohol to prevent spoilage and are among the best herbal options. Freeze-dried extracts are also very stable and offer good value for your money. Standardized extracts are also among the more reliable forms of herbal preparations. In general, herbal medicines tend to be milder than chemical drugs and produce their effects more slowly; they also are much less likely to cause toxicity because they are diluted forms of drugs rather than concentrated forms. It is important to note, however, that too much of even the most seemingly harmless herb may cause problems, particularly those from non-standardized extracts. Remember that herbals are drugs and should not be taken casually, any more than you would take over-the-counter or prescription drugs without really needing them or knowing their side effects. Though the word natural may make herbal remedies sound safe and comforting, remember that they have many of the same chemicals as synthetic prescription drugs.
Perhaps most important, remember that even though herbal supplements are growing in popularity, herbs are not panaceas. Some of them work; many do not. Some may react with prescription drugs or cause side effects that are unusual. Unfortunately, because herbs are classified by the government as foods, not drugs, they are not subject to the same rigorous evaluation and testing that the FDA completes for virtually every medicine on the market.
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