The pros and cons of herbal remedies
By Josiah Groth
Many people choose to take herbal remedies. One of the main reasons people go with them is because they are natural. What pros and cons come with that term “natural?”
I have read several papers listing the pros and cons of herbs, and there are a lot of key points in a complete discussion. We can begin that discussion by examining the word “synergy.”
Synergy can roughly be defined as individual components working better through cooperation than they would apart. An herbal remedy can sometimes have hundreds of unique plant compounds in a capsule or a properly prepared tea.
While we do not have room for specifics here, many times naturally occurring buffers and catalysts are found in the herbal mixture that turn on or off inside the body depending on our internal chemical balance. These often act to soften the intensity of the herb’s reaction on our body or to enhance its effectiveness when the proper conditions are present. Many people describe this as a “natural intelligence” that the herbs possess to interact appropriately with our bodies.
Going “natural” also has a few potential drawbacks that are important to know. One is that because an herbal remedy is taken from a living plant, the health of that plant and the health of the soil it was grown in can make a drastic difference in the potency and effectiveness of the herbs you buy.
Wine enthusiasts talk constantly about the climate and weather affecting the grapes used to make their wine. They know how strongly these factors impact the flavor of the final product. The same considerations influence the potency of the herbs. It is incredibly rare that you can look at a bottle of herbs and learn anything about the growing conditions that the herbs in your capsule experienced.
Herbs have been used effectively for thousands of years, but we have not come close to scientifically validating all the effects their ingredients and their combinations have on our bodies. The natural process is full of wisdom that we have yet to understand, but it also lacks precision and certainty. These facts turn some people towards herbs and others away.
Remember: Herbal remedies are taken from living material. When you choose to use them, you should know that you are getting all the pros and the cons of working with a “natural” ingredient.
Caution: Just because an herb is a natural ingredient does not mean that the entire capsule you take is natural. Pay attention to the fillers and other ingredients listed on the bottle.
Josiah Groth is the owner of Back to Bliss Wellness. More information on his practice is available at backtoblisswellness.com.