Outside of Western culture, most of the world views herbal medicine as traditional medicine; whereas we, on the contrary, view our artificial pharmaceuticals as traditional and herbs as alternative medicine. Herbs are nature’s medicines that are abundantly available for our healing, so it would seem logical that we would use them more.
Few people know that common medicines we use today, like aspirin, are derived from plant or herbal sources – with a little added chemical fluff. Read on to learn why herbs may be better for you and how you can put them to good use.
Natural vs. Artificial
The word “herb” refers to any plant (or its parts) that is used for medicinal purposes – or to make food flavorings and aromas. Herbs are available in many different forms, so there’s something for everyone – teas, oils, tablets, fresh leaves, etc. These natural medicines are composed of just the right stuff to heal a lot of our everyday ailments and help manage chronic conditions – from headaches and menstrual cramps to sexual dysfunction and anxiety. The list goes on and on, so no matter what’s ailing you, there’s a good chance there’s an herb that can benefit you.
The great thing about herbs is that they have little or no side effects – unlike regular pharmaceutical medicines, which often have side effects, can become addictive and can even create further medical complications. Also, because herbs come from nature, you can even grow your own and save yourself some money in the process.
Just beware of trying to make your own concoctions, since mixing certain herbs can produce undesirable results. Herbs alone can have the same potency (and effectiveness) as some prescription drugs, so you need to be careful and acquire as much knowledge on your herbs of choice as you can.
Herb Buying Tips
It’s important to know that herbs lose their strength or effectiveness over time, so you need to buy them fresh. Your best bet is to shop for them in well-established and popular natural food stores or stores that sell herbs primarily, since they are more likely to carry fresh and ripe herbs. Herbs are most powerful soon after they are harvested, so too much of a lapse in time or improper storage will cause them to weaken in strength.
A good rule of thumb when buying herbs is to never buy more than you plan to or will feasibly use in a year or, even more sensibly, purchase medicinal herbs in amounts that you will likely use in 3 months or less.
Growing your own herbs is another great option when you want to be sure of the freshness of the herbs you are consuming. It does require more time and effort on your part to cultivate them properly, when you could much more easily buy them directly from a health food store in prepackaged varieties. However, you will learn much more growing your own herbs and will, again, be sure of what you’re getting. Your health will be greatly improved by incorporating more herbs into your dietary regime either way, and that’s what’s most important.