Herbs: The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated

Image borrowed from Hoalian.com

Most of us grew up on our mother’s and grandmother’s home remedies.  In our home we always had an ample supply of chamomile, peppermint, lavender, and aloe vera.  I fell in love with herbal remedies because my Mom was quite the gardener and tea lover and her remedies worked!  Herbal remedies have really come into their own and are even provided to our patients in local pharmacies, like Mixtures.  We are a compounding, regular, and naturopathic pharmacy.  We provide quality herbal remedies to our patients, but most importantly we make sure the herbal blends our patients use are safe with their other medication.  Being a one stop shop may seem like a great marketing gig, but, truly, it is the safest and most effective way for us to care for our patients.

So why is it so important that we are involved in our patient’s use of herbal medications?  Herbal medications are NATURAL.  Natural = safe right?  Wrong.  Medicine men and women were the original pharmacists.  They knew that each herb and supplement had its own potency, benefits, and dangers.    Let’s not forget that cyanide is also totally natural folks.   Herbs, just like food, shoes, cars, and pretty much anything else in life should be invested in with a little guidance, moderation, and intelligence.  Herbals and supplements are available over the counter and often far away from the pharmacy, thus giving the consumer a false sense of security.  You will not find your medicine woman in the supplement aisle, but you can always find your pharmacist very close by!

Here are some things to keep in mind when you come to your pharmacy in search of an herbal or supplement:

  1. Bring a list of all medications, including over the counter medications, that you have had in the past month.
  2. Bring a list of the herbals (including teas) that you have used in the past month.
  3. Bring a list of your current health conditions (no matter how embarrassing you think they are we are professionals and we have seen it all… trust me)
  4. Bring a list of drug and food allergies if you have them.
    image borrowed from lookbeauty.com

With all this information we should be able to help you make the right choice for the herb you are curious about.

Also remember that not all herbs and supplements are created equal.  They are not at all regulated by the FDA.  Some brands of herbs have contained ingredients that are not on the label.  Some other herb preparations don’t even contain the correct parts of the plant.  With chamomile, for example, the important part of the plant for it’s properties are the flowers.  Some manufacturers, however, will primarily contain the stem and root of the plant.  This is of no use to us as practitioners or to our patients as consumers.

So please, whether you can come to our pharmacy at Mixtures, or stop by your local pharmacy or grocery store, bring the 4 bits of information about and an idea of an herb or issue you would like to treat and we will help you to the best of our ability to make the best decision for you.

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