The Truth About Herbal Medicine

Use this guide to become a savvy natural-health consumer, and learn how to decipher the safety of herbal medicine for yourself.

| January/February 2015

Truth About Herbal Medicine

Learn the truth about herbal medicines to begin understanding herb safety.

Photo by iStock

BREAKING NEWS: Is chamomile deadly? Why a recent study has experts wondering whether that cup of tea in your hand might just be a death sentence. Follow-up at 10 o’clock.

These days, I watch the news looking for scare tactics like this. It can sometimes seem as if the media is actively trying to discredit herbal medicine. Because the average consumer doesn’t know the full story behind each study, and often doesn’t have the time, inclination or tools to analyze the information themselves, they ditch the herbal option thinking, “better safe than sorry”—even though they may be skeptical that chamomile is dangerous. This is unfortunate when we consider the boon to wellness herbal medicines can be, especially when our mainstream medical system focuses more on treating symptoms than on promoting health.

The Herbal Environment

We herbal health advocates are in a sticky place in the U.S. The mainstream medical community often says herbal and botanical medicines are ineffective, while simultaneously saying herbal medicines are dangerous. The idea that the mainstream media may have motivation to discredit nonconventional medicine is one backed by research. As Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council, stated in his 2013 speech, “Health Benefits of Popular Herbal Supplements in the U.S. Market”, “If you look at medical journals, they too are subject to bias. According to a pilot trial of 11 top journals, the more advertising in a medical journal over a one-year period from pharmaceutical drug advertising, the less coverage there was on herbs and dietary supplements in general—and what coverage there was tended to be negative about safety and efficacy.”

Along with creating a confusing environment for the average consumer, this also makes legislation governing the sale of herbal products a bit schizophrenic. It makes it possible for sketchy, and often dangerous, “natural” diet supplements to be sold by everyone from TV personalities to the corner drugstore. Then, when these supplements—which promise to help someone lose 50 pounds in two weeks with no effort—inevitably harm people, it casts doubt on natural products as a whole.

At Mockingbird Meadows Herbal Health Farm, where we teach people how to grow, prepare and use medicinal herbal applications, we advise our students to make the purest product they can in the cleanest manner possible.

We suggest they comply with the laws and maintain superior customer service. This doesn’t guarantee there will never be questions, but it can help assure the growing group of consumers who are seeking these products that the intent behind their creation is one of health.

Personal Wellness

Our current health-care system is unsustainable. Rather than focusing on common-sense, time-honored ways to improve our health and wellness, we live in unhealthful ways and then expect pharmaceutical medicine to undo the damage we’ve done to our bodies.

1/14/2016 8:28:51 AM

I live in Brazil where dengue fever is a problem. We have found that this virus is cured almost immediately with the tea made from the leaves of the marigold plant (Tagetes erecta)( not to be mistaken for calendula flower ) with absolutely no bad side effects. It builds up your immune system in a few hours and works for any viral infection. This means that colds and flu are gone in a day or two without many of the normal symptoms. Please try this and pass it on to your readers. It is really incredible, IT was used over 2000 years ago by the Aztecs.

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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