In recent years, more information is becoming available to us which allows the veil of ignorance to slowly lift when it comes to consuming herbs and herbal supplements.
This also allows people to consider their use to enhance their health and quality of life.
Table of Contents
Problem or Solution?
On the other hand, because of the same overload of information out there, there are a few occasions where these herbal supplements have been dangerous or labeled as ineffective by inexperienced users.
Today we will examine a simple question: Are herbs as effective as medicine or are they just dangerous?
There are many times when people complain that the use of herbs did nothing for them. This is normal but it has nothing to do with the true potency of herbs. Herbs are not candy or medicine. We take candy for immediate pleasure and drugs for immediate relief.
Herbs work in a different way. They work with the body to create an environment that is optimized in order to make us healthy. This means that they also need specific doses and for specific amounts of time. So don’t expect to pop a pill of a herbal supplement and become superman in a couple of hours. If you are looking for that, you would be better off taking anabolic steroids instead (and those come packed with a lot of side effects).
So of course, impatient people often mark the use of herbs as ineffective. How can you expect something to work if you don’t give it enough time to work its magic?
And then there is this:
“Some herbal supplements contain no herbs in them”
According to an article from consumers.org there was a research conducted on herbal supplements that are sold in big retail stores such as GNC, Walmart, Walgreens and Target which showed that these supplements contain little to no herbal substances.
It is no secret that often times doctors and the pharmaceutical companies deny the value of botanical supplements for a variety of reasons one of which is usually lack of research and therefore safety. While I do agree to some degree that extensive research has not been conducted on many herbs, it is those same herbs that have been used traditionally for thousands of years with great success. Lack of extensive research does not rule out that these herbs still work.
But why do they do this? Do they not care about our health?
Well, yes and no.
Don’t take it personally, it is strictly a business move. If simple herbs were actually fully successful in curing a variety of ailments and diseases, why would we need medicine and drugs for them in the first place? This is something that might hinder the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.
To put it another way, if we were able to cure ourselves and stay in top health with herbs, the role and the need for doctors would be significantly downsized and the medical industry would lose big bucks. So of course, some people may not be so happy to endorse the use of herbs.
On the flip side, a lot of medicine come from herbs! Allicin from garlic is used as a medicine for treating hypertension and high blood pressure. Coumarin from cinnamon is used to treat insulin conditions such as diabetes. A lot of drugs that are used for sexual health contain herbal compounds.
So in essence, the pharmaceutical industry is actually using herbal compounds already and yet still preach that they do not believe in their effectiveness and instead promote their own pharmaceutical products. (Sound familiar?)
Using low quality herbs from contaminated sources
Another part of the greater problem with herb and supplement companies is that a lot of companies use herbs of low quality or from contaminated sources in their products. The entire process of turning the herb into powder and then into a capsule or tablet, is so aggressive that the end product contains less herb than it is intended to.
And in the cases that it does contain herbs, it might be contaminated with foreign materials and heavy metals. Taking an herbal supplement that is loaded with heavy metals beats the purpose of taking it in the first place.
Some products are loaded with dangerous substances
Another danger with using herbal supplements from unreliable sources is that certain companies sell products that not only do not contain any herbs, but they are loaded with dangerous pharmaceutical drugs that have similar actions to those of herbs.
Just like I have explained numerous times (like in my previous article on what are herbs and what you should consider before taking them), herbs work synergistically with the body while regular medicine works in an invasive and often antagonistic fashion.
Usually the most dangerous supplements are either sexual aids, testosterone boosters or fat loss products. Those are already contraindicated for people with blood pressure or heart problems and if there are chemical substances (such as ephedra or sildenafil) in there instead of herbal compounds, there is a higher risk for those people and can land in the emergency room in no time.
How to protect yourself:
Look for reputable sellers and companies
In order to protect yourself, you need to be proactive and do your own research. Try to find reputable sellers and companies that offer herbal supplements and herbs that are pure. This minimizes the chance of getting ineffective herbs or dangerous substances so that you can be sure of their quality and pureness.
This can only happen through trial and error though. You can also sometimes rely on customer reviews but this is a very risky way.
Check with the FDA
Another way is to go by the book and check the label or just do your research online and see what the FDA has to say about a specific supplement.
The FDA has been banning a lot of supplements that do not meet safety regulations in recent years. You can read this not-so-small list in this link.
Remember though, that FDA is often working with pharmaceutical companies and has been banning compounds that have been found to work so their pure intentions are questionable.
You are responsible for your own safety
The weight of responsibility falls on you. This means 2 things:
- Always check with your doctor and then be careful when buying herbal supplements.
- Always do your research.
Finding what herb is best for you involves a lot of personal research, trial and error. Then the next step is to find a company or seller that sell products that actually work.
Herbalists and experts can also guide you by revealing their trusted companies and sources but remember that it still remains your choice and responsibility to find what works for your case.
I hope that you now understand more about this delicate matter. Herbs are not the devil as some people accuse them to be. However, it is our responsibility to put in the work to keep ourselves safe and avoid anything that is being marketed as an herb or herbal supplement when in fact it is not.
After all, the point of using herbs is to enhance our health not destroy it. Be mindful, make responsible choices and remember everything that was mentioned here in order to make your experience with herbs a good one.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
Also if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200