Herbal Supplements 101

People have been using herbal supplements as ‘medicines’ for thousands of years to meet their health needs.  Self treatment is still the primary use of herbs today, even though enlightened clinics and practitioners readily prescribe the responsible use of herbal remedies to their patients.

We’re often taught to think of herbs as natural drugs.  While we must recognize and respect the power of herbal medicines, they are really foods with medicinal qualities (herbalism).  Herbal supplements combine with our bodies as foods do, so they are able to address both the symptoms and the cause(s) of a problem.

As nourishment, herbs offer the body nutrients it may not always receive, either because of poor diet, or environmental deficiencies in the soil and air.  As medicine, herbs are essentially body balancers that work with the body functions, so that it can heal and regulate itself.

Herbs work like precision instruments in the body, not like sledge hammers.  Herbal medicines can focus on a special problem, or be broad-based for overall support.

Herbs offer a rich variety of healing elements, with far less incident of side effects.  Always use herbs in moderation, and from a reputable source.  (Discount and dollar stores, are not a reputable source.)  Also remember, that anything taken to excess can cause side effects.  Use common sense, care and intelligence when using herbs for either food or medicinal purposes.

Drugs vs Herbs and Your Immune System

Unlike herbal supplements, drugs are not nourishing.  They work exactly the opposite from foods.  Drugs run powerful interference against a harmful process that’s happening in your body, in order to stabilize it.  They disrupt a cascade of harmful events, in order to arrest a serious outcome.

But, make no mistake, drugs can’t normalize or nourish youONLY your own immune system, herbs or food can do that, through your body’s enzyme activity.  Drugs keep the interference process going.  (think of a football linebacker running interference, to stop a play)  Now, sometimes, that is what you need to arrest an acute condition quickly, but over the long term, drugs tend to work against your body, smashing and destroying its delicate balance like a sledge hammer.  That’s one of the reasons you might have gotten good results from a drug at first, and then poorer and poorer results (and growing side effects) as time went on.

Your body, and especially your immune system, always tries to normalize (balance) itself.  Over time, as the disruption process continues, your immune system doesn’t know what normal is, and ends up attacking the wrong elements (or everything) in confusion.

That’s where the large number of immune-compromised illness comes in.  America is at a crisis point with immune-imperiled diseases like Candida, chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto’s, fibromyalgia and lupus.  They especially affect women’s delicate body balance most.  They are way under-diagnosed in our health care system, and they’re reaching epidemic proportions.

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Herbal Medicines Work Differently In The Body

Herbs provide foundation nutrients.  Herbs nourish the body’s deepest, most basic elements, like the brain, glands and hormones.  Herbs work to normalize, balance and support at the cause of the problem, for a much more permanent effect.  Results seem to take much longer, yet often some improvement from herbal treatment can usually be felt in 3 – 6 days.  Chronic or long standing problems take longer, but herbal remedies tend to work more quickly with each new issue, and coupled with new issues growing further apart or resolving all-together.  A traditional rule-of-thumb is to expect 1 month of healing for every year you have had the problem you are addressing.

The “Healing Crisis”

Herbal combinations are not addictive, but they are powerful foods that you should use with care.  It takes a little more attention and personal responsibility than mindlessly taking a prescription drug, but the extra care is worth far more in the results you achieve for your well-being.

As with other natural therapies, there is sometimes a “healing crisis” during an herbal healing program.  This is known as the “Law of Cure”, and simply means that you may seem to get worse before you get better.  The body generally eliminates it’s most toxic wastes heavily during the first stages of a cleansing therapy.  This is especially true in the traditional 3 – 7 day fasts that many people use to begin a serious healing program.  Temporary exacerbation of symptoms can range of mild to fairly severe, but usually precedes excellent results.  This same healing crisis occurs with drugs as well, as any alcoholic or drug addict will attest to.  The first few days and weeks of their health transformation comes with some unpleasant experiences, but this doesn’t mean you should stop the protocol, it means it is effectively doing it’s job, which is to rid the body of harmful, toxic wastes, making way for a healthier, less toxic environment.

Herbal therapy without a preliminary fast, works more slowly and gently, if you wish for a little less drastic transition.  Still, some weakness may be felt as toxins are being released into the bloodstream, to then be excreted from the body.  Strength quickly returns once this process is over.  Watching this amazing phenomenon, allows you to observe your body at work healing itself.

Herbs Work Better With A Natural Foods Diet

Everyone can benefit from an herbal formula, but results increase dramatically when fresh foods and whole grains form the basis of your diet.  Subtle healing activity is more effective when it doesn’t have to labor through excess waste material, mucous or junk food accumulation.  (Some people carry around up to 50 pounds of unexcreted waste just in their lower digestive tract!)

Interestingly, herbs themselves can help counter the problems of “chemicalized foods”.  They are rich in minerals, which are the basic elements that are missing or diminished in today’s quick-grow, over-sprayed, over-fertilized farming.  Minerals and trace minerals are a basic element in food assimilation, providing healing essences to support your body in overcoming disease.

Your body has its own unique, wonderful mechanisms, and it has the ability to bring itself to its own balanced and healthy state.  Herbs simply pave the way for the body to do its own work, by breaking up toxins, cleansing, lubricating, toning and nourishing.  Herbs promote elimination of waste matter and toxins from the system by simple, natural means.  Herbs naturally support our body’s ability and tendency for natural health and well-being.

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews