Let me offer some insight to the process of buying and using natural remedies.
Obviously, the more you know about natural remedies (in particular ones you are interested in using), the better. And the more serious the disease you are attempting to treat, the more care you must exercise and the more you must know. There is no substitute for knowledge as any doctor, researcher, or even an informed patient will tell you.
If there is one thing to keep in mind, it is that natural remedies, especially those used for serious diseases, such as congestive heart failure, depression, cancer, and immune disorders, must be approached with respect and a good physician. Natural remedies work because they have strong pharmacological activity. Although their side effects, if any, are generally much less than those of prescription drugs, natural remedies if abused or overused can also harm you. You should have a highly trained person – a doctor, a pharmacist, or other health professional – to help guide you. They can tell you what you need, how to decide among products and brands, how much to take, what to expect—just as you do when you take prescription drugs. This is what you could expect if you lived in some other countries, where both doctors and pharmacists must be knowledgeable about herbs and supplements, their approved uses, their potential side effects, and how they should be prescribed. In this country, where herbs and supplements have generally been ignored by medical schools, there is no such consumer information or support system. Although this is sure to change in the near future, for the time being, unless you have the benefit of shopping at a place where there is a highly knowledgeable staff, you are on your own.
One of the best things I can suggest you do is to be sure and talk with your doctor. Health professionals can keep you from making a major mistake, because there are limits to your ability to self-diagnose your health problems. It is important that the disease you believe you have is in fact the disease that you actually do have. A health professional can save you from treating something that does not exist or failing to treat something that does. If the natural remedy you choose doesn’t fit the disease, of course it won’t work, and you could be neglecting to recognize and treat a life-threatening disease.
Also as important is the fact that a doctor can help you measure the extent of your success. Although just feeling better is a good indication that a natural remedy is working, it’s best to have concrete evidence that can only be provided by health professionals. Also you should remember that a natural medicine, particularly in the case of cancer, should be part of a comprehensive treatment.
Let’s move on to how to get the best products.
Sometimes walking into a health food store or using mail order catalogues for natural remedies can be a nightmare, even for those of you who might be quite knowledgeable. The range and variety of different products and brands can be confusing. Since the natural products industry is for the most part unregulated, your best bet is to choose products made by large, reputable companies that have been in business a long time and have a lot to lose by putting out an inferior products. If you have doubt or questions, ask the people in your health food store to direct you to the well-established companies with excellent standards for producing quality products.
You also want to be sure to check the label on the herbal products you are considering. Your best guarantee of potency is to look for the word “standardized” on the label. This tells you that the product consistently contains a certain percentage of a specific chemical, which, in most cases, has been shown to be the most active substance. You will find that the manufacture of such products is more rigorous. They are usually more expensive, but generally worth it. Unfortunately cheapest is not always best. It’s true some natural products are overpriced for various reasons. But in the realm of botanical (herbal) medicines, the higher price often reflects higher quality. This issue is not as critical for vitamins. A less expensive vitamin C is apt to be as potent as a more expensive one.
Let me leave you with a list of what I consider to be the ten things you must consider as tips for buying and using natural remedies:
- Don’t take natural remedies for serious diseases that have been self-diagnosed.
- If you are taking prescription medications, don’t substitute or add natural remedies without first consulting your doctor or other health professional. A sudden cessation of medication and/or a drug interaction with natural remedies could be hazardous.
- Buy extracts, liquid, solid, or powdered remedies when possible; they best preserve the potency of the herb’s active properties.
- Buy a standardized product, as noted on the label, when possible.
- If possible, buy from a top-quality company, which is usually a large, established company.
- Don’t take higher doses than the label recommends.
- Generally buy single-substance products instead of formulas if you are unfamiliar with the general properties of the ingredients in a formula.
- If you have any unusual symptoms (such as allergies, rashes, or headaches) after taking a natural remedy, stop taking it immediately and see a doctor if symptoms persist or are serious.
- If possible, take natural remedies with the supervision of a health professional who can monitor your progress.
- If you are pregnant or nursing an infant, or have a chronic or serious health problem, check with your doctor before taking natural remedies.
Following these guidelines will prove to be most helpful for you and your family on your journey to good health!