While herbs have been used for their medicinal safety since the beginning of time, they are remaking their mark in only the most recent of years. If you find yourself intrigued by the sheer power of plants and are looking to get started with using them in your life, keep reading for tips and suggestions to help you stay safe.
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What are herbs?
In a nutshell, herbs are any plant or plant part that can be used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. They are used as a sort of art and science that can be linked to promoting health, treating illnesses, and possibly preventing further illness issues in the body. Although herbs have been hidden behind the cloud of modern medicine, they are still a go-to choice of remedy for much of the world’s population.
What sets herbal medicine apart from pharmaceutical and conventional medicine is the fact that they are derived directly from dried (or living) plants that can contain thousands of interrelated compounds. This means that herbs have the potential to provide you with a wide variety of safe and effective treatment options.
Although the great outdoors is filled with food and medicine, there are a few key things to know beforehand to ensure your own safety.
4 Ways to Stay Safe When Using Herbs (for beginners)
Before reading any further, be sure to bookmark this page or jot these tips down in a notebook or journal. You’ll want to refer to it often until you gain more experience and are able to move onto other things such as foraging or growing your own herbs!
Understand that herbs can affect many bodily systems.
Coming from the understanding of using pharmaceutical medicines, most people try to look at herbs like over the counter drugs. However, there is a BIG difference. Pharmaceutical medicines are usually created to powerfully target one specific body system. On the other hand, herbs have the ability to target many body systems, and are often used as such.
This variety in ingredients means that the same herb can be used to treat several different issues in the same (or different) body system. To help navigate the many uses of herbs consider purchasing a few beginner books like Herbal Medicine for Beginners and The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety.
Slowly incorporate herbs into your health regimen.
As with any lifestyle change, using herbs works best when they are slowly introduced into your health regimen. Allergies and intolerances are slim when herbs are used appropriately, but you have to start somewhere – right? The best place to begin is with one herb at a time, and since they are not like manufactured medicines, it may take a while to see any changes in your health.
This doesn’t mean they don’t work, it could simply mean that your body has to accommodate and become comfortable with its new treatment method. It is also important to keep in mind that an herb’s value can be diminished for a variety of reasons. They do, however, work best when they are combined with other like plants.
Remember there are several ways to use herbs.
At first thought, using capsules may come to mind as the most effective way to use herbs; however, there are many more ways to enjoy the benefits of plants:
- Make tea. Learn how to make a detox tea – lime-a-licious style!
- Create poultices, salves, and/or balms. My favorite is this delightful Hibiscus body scrub!
- Soak in a bath.
- Make tinctures (concentrated extracts).
- Infuse in oils (almond, olive, coconut, etc.).
- Make Herbal Remedies such as this herbal remedy for a cough.
When in doubt, seek an herbalist.
There will be times when you have questions about how to stay safe when using herbs that the Internet or books can’t quite answer. If you are ever in doubt about using a particular herb, it is wise to find an herbalist. These are people who are dedicated to learning about and helping others use plants for medicinal purposes. While they are called by many different names – naturopaths, holistic medical doctors, or wild crafters, just to name a few – they are all devoted to enhancing the relationship between plants and people.
As you start your herbal journey, remember there may be a learning curve. There are times when natural many not always mean safe; therefore, if you are currently taking prescribed medications, be sure to let them know if you plan (or have started) using herbs to prevent any interactions.
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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents of this article, made available via The Mind Body Design (Holistic Fit LLC), are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The Content presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by The Mind Body Design (Holistic Fit LLC). Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never use an herb or essential oil without first reading the label, doing your research, or checking with a local expert.