HERBS ARE POWERFUL MEDICINE
Reprinted with permission from the book/program FROM MAGIC TO MEDICINE
Herbal medicine can be defined as the prevention and treatment of disease through the use of medications made from plant material. This form of medicine has been around since the dawn of mankind and every major culture that has ever existed has used it as their primary method of healing.
Only in the 20th century have we abandoned these time proven remedies for modern drugs ... and even at that, a large number of today's medicines are derived from plants.
Do not be deceived into thinking that herbs are harmless and have no side effects. In reality, there are powerful herbs and mild ones ... it is best to be informed prior to taking them and always start out with a very small quantity (to test it out) ... then, increase it to higher and higher doses. It is clear, however, that many people derive great benefit from these supplements as they are becoming increasingly popular.
It is often important to note the scientific name (Latin name) when researching herbs because the same plant will often have a number of different names ... for instance, "goldenseal" is also called "yellow root" and "dong quai" is also called "angelica".
There are many different ways to take herbs, the most common methods are ... herbal teas, herbal tinctures, standardized extract capsules and tablets.
TEAS ... Infusions and Decoctions
Herbal teas are typically prepared in a covered container by infusion or decoction. To make an infusion simply soak (also called steeping) the delicate parts of the herb (flower or leaves) in hot water. Decoctions are made by boiling the plant material in water for approximately 10-15 minutes ... this method is usually reserved for plant roots (non-delicate parts of the herb).
Liquid herbal preparations containing alcohol and water are called "tinctures". Make by soaking the herb in a mixture of alcohol and water for the purpose of extracting the active ingredients.
CAPSULES AND TABLETS
These are the most convenient methods of taking herbs and are manufactured in the same ways as conventional medications.
1) Herbal remedies should not be given to the elderly, children, pregnant females or mothers who are breast-feeding without first consulting a health care provider.
2) Herbal medications may interact with conventional medicines and this should be investigated prior to taking.
3) Herbal medicines can have side effects like diarrhea, insomnia and allergic reactions ... some herbs may even cause death. So, even though they are natural they should always be treated with the utmost respect and caution.