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Use Caution with Herbal Supplements

Jun 15, 2008
Today, people are increasingly turning to holistic "medicine" to maintain their health. They may want to avoid prescription drugs' side effects, or to cut medical costs. And today, health food store sales of herbal supplements have increased 10 times over what they were just a few years ago. However, if you believe, as many do, that natural herbs are safe just because they're natural, think again. You do have to worry about use and dosage of these most potent natural substances.

Widely touted as the healthy and more natural alternative to synthetic pharmaceutical products, herbal treatments must still be afforded the same respect and care in usage as people give synthetic drugs. You should always be careful about what you choose to put into your body, especially if you are ingesting dangerously large amounts of a substance you know nothing about.

If you're taking herbs (as some people do) to avoid going to a doctor and instead want to treat illness from home, you might think about using herbal remedies. However, you should always consult your doctor before you begin using herbal remedies, whether you use them alone or in conjunction with other medications your doctor prescribes. Not doing so could be dangerous.

Many companies sell herbs off the internet without any verifiable way to back up their claims or even a guarantee that you're receiving the kind of herb you're investing in. You want to only buy from a reputable company that delivers herbs you can trust.

Make sure you're working toward preventative health, and not simply treatments or cures for diseases or ailments you encounter from time to time. Herbal medicine works best when you try to maintain a balance within your body, not when you seek out help solely to fix an immediate problem.

Whenever you buy herbs, you want to know what the plant does and how much you can safely consume of it. If you're on any other medications, you'll want to check with your physician first to determine if you'll have any unsafe interaction between the natural and synthetic medications.

While most distributors of herbal supplements include dosage directions on the packaging, some do not. You should be able to find information about the particular herb that you are interested in online, so you should ensure that you order the correct herb and take it in the correct amounts.

Whenever you start taking an herb for the first time, you'll want to use caution and start with smaller doses until you make sure you're not going to have an allergic reaction, just as you could with any synthetic medication. Start with a test sample and then if all goes well, increase it to the recommended dose.

Just because a medicinal remedy is "natural" doesn't mean that it's safe to use. Keep in mind that a small amount of an herb can be deadly if misused. You should read all labels and instructions for using the herb and if you have any questions, consult your health care professional.
About the Author
Kim Archer writes about women's wellness. She is publisher of The Internet Spa, where you'll find up-to-date information to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit.
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