Are Herbs Safe?
The Healing Power of Herbs - Part Three
Are herbs safe and what are the possible side effects of herbs? The following information will help you check you're making safe home remedies using herbs.
Some people may have allergic reactions to Catnip, as to any herb with which they may come in contact. Examples of such a reaction would be contact dermatitis, or a skin rash, while for some others the experience may result in something more severe, such as the onset of respiratory problems, or even anaphylactic shock.
Many herbs contain volatile oils that may irritate the nasal passage or lungs. It is precisely this property of certain plants that makes them ideal sources for fragrant essential oils such as those used in aromatherapy. This is a form of herbal medicine that is not right for everyone, precisely because their scent is so strong that it can become an irritant instead of a healer in some sensitive individuals.
Furthermore, one should never ingest essential oils, due to their high concentration of phytochemicals.
Because plants contain many phytochemicals all working in synergy, some can be very helpful, and still others can harm. It is impossible to say for absolute certain that any herb is totally “safe” - i.e., that it will not harm in any way anyone who ingests it or uses it, in whatever form, as a medicine to treat an illness or deficiency, etc.
Dr. James Duke states, “As a rule, however, rational herbal medicine is safer than conventional medicine because the medicines are more dilute and side effects tend to be less severe. But you still have to exercise caution when using herbal medicines. You also need to understand that things can go wrong.” (1)
Exercise caution when picking plants to use as herbs and be absolutely sure that you are identifying the plants correctly. This advice is aimed, of course, at the person who wants to wildcraft or grow her own herbs. For more surety on identification and correct dosages, it’s generally safe to purchase your stock of herbs, especially if they are standardised brands, from a natural health food store or similar venue. Remember to read the labels and ingredients carefully, making sure the botanical name is clearly marked as belonging to the common name on the package.
There are reliable sources, both online and in book form, which can tell you the herbs that are safe to use, which are questionable and yet again which ones contain toxins that are dangerous to the human body.
Please read this important caution on the
safe use of herbs.
How do herbs work and heal?
Healing Power of Herbs - Part Four
by Raymonde Savoie Johnson
Pl. Sc. Tech., Herbal Consultant
(1) The Green Pharmacy, “Putting Safety First,” Dr. James A. Duke: http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/41/3.cfm
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