In recent years, herbal alternatives have become popular not only among people who prefer traditional medicine but those who have only used modern medical science in the past. This medicine alternative is based on hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history. As a result, it’s important to understand this non traditional medicine if you’re interested in alternative treatment and to get a better idea of what alternative medicine, like herbal remedies, can do for you.
The Power of Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicines were once the most common type of medical treatment in the world. Many ancient peoples used various herbal remedies to help with a variety of health issues, including headaches, fevers, and many other types of illnesses. The success of their treatments varied, but modern herbal alternatives are typically based on these ancient practices.
The rising popularity of this medicine alternative showcases a growing need for people to get back to nature and reconnect with their ancient roots. People interested in this therapy want to know what alternative medicine can do for them and whether or not non traditional medicine, like herbal remedies, work for them. Thankfully, this ancient art hasn’t been lost.
How Herbal Medicine Has Survived
Throughout history, this alternative treatment was not considered alternative but primary. What we mean is that ancient people used herbal medicines every day to treat many conditions. However, many of the tribes that mastered these therapies used oral histories, and with the spread of colonialism and modern medicine, many of these treatments were close to disappearing.
Thankfully, Irish monks and ancient Greek medical theorists preserved these medicines through their writings. As a result, their traditions have persevered and have even increased in recent years. The rising popularity of these alternative care options shows not only an interest in getting back to nature but a desire to move beyond traditional medical care methods.
The increasing popularity of these treatments is important to take seriously because some people may attempt to use only herbal therapies and discard modern medical therapies completely. Is that a wise decision? Typically, herbal therapy is best as a supplement to traditional care. It also comes with its own series of safety considerations that shouldn’t be ignored.
Safety and Considerations
Herbal alternatives are typically considered safe to use as an alternative treatment and as a medicine alternative for non-serious health issues. What alternative medicine can do that traditional medicine can’t is minimize the amount of medicines and chemicals in your body. That said, people with serious health concerns shouldn’t rely only on non traditional medicine.
For example, while some herbal remedies may help with pain management, chronic or severe pain may still require a traditional pain treatment to manage. Furthermore, herbal remedies are typically not highly regulated by the FDA as medicines because they consider herbal treatments as foods. Therefore, quality may be variable between manufacturers.
Furthermore, The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) warns against taking herbal remedies if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, over 65, under 18, having surgery, or taking other prescription or over-the-counter medications. That’s because herbal remedies have a small possibility of negatively interacting with drugs and causing various complications.
For example, some studies have highlighted potential drug interactions with supplements like garlic, ginseng, goldenseal, black cohosh, ginkgo biloba, and St. John’s Wort. Though these risks are considered small, they could cause various concerns like allergic reactions, intensification of medical reactions, or even a reduction in how well a medicine treats a condition.
When to Talk With a Doctor
Is it always necessary to talk with your doctor when taking herbal supplements? If you plan on taking them for medical purposes, yes, you should. They can help you better understand what a supplement can (and can’t) do and make it easier for you to choose wisely. Furthermore, they can give you more information on potential complications with your medical treatments.
What if you just plan on taking herbal supplements for nutritional health and not to treat a specific condition? It’s still advisable to talk with your doctor because these supplements may cause side effects if used improperly. For example, you can overdose on certain types of vitamins and minerals, so make sure that your blood levels are safe before trying these treatments.
Popular Herbal Alternatives and Their Benefits
Now that you know a bit about herbal alternatives, it’s a good idea to check out some popular alternative treatment options that may work well as a non traditional medicine for you. We’ll highlight each medicine alternative and discuss what alternative medicine options like these can do for you. When reading through this list, make sure you choose carefully and always talk with your doctor first.
Various supplements can help boost your energy and improve your overall health. Let’s break down a few of these common options to help you make an informed choice:
- Ashwagandha – This herb comes from Indian ginseng and winter cherry and can help boost energy, decrease anxiety, and even manage pain and inflammation problems.
- Sage – Sage has been used for years to not only boost energy but to improve cognitive health in people throughout the world.
- Guarana – Modern coffee uses guarana to improve your energy levels, boost brain function, and enhance cognitive abilities.
Anxiety is a common health issue that can be treated either with traditional medicines or with herbal alternatives like
- Chamomile – This herb has been used for hundreds of years as a powerful and effective relaxation tool.
- Lavender – Lavender creates tasty teas that can help soothe your anxiety and minimize other mental health concerns.
- CBD – As part of the cannabis plant, CBD has received a lot of attention in recent years and works well for many health issues.
Immune System Support
Naturally improving your immune system with herbal remedies can help you fight off diseases more effectively. Herbs to consider include:
- Angelica Root – Mix this root with other ingredients to produce a tasty tea that can boost your immune system effectively.
- Astragalus Root – Herbal medical tradition uses this root to enhance the immune system and ensure that it operates smoothly.
- Ginger – Though ginger has many other benefits, it may also help with immune health when mixed with various ingredients.
Other Herbs to Consider
Here are a few other herbal remedies that may help you:
- Echinacea for toothache, bowel pain, and skin irritation
- Garlic to manage blood pressure, infections, and fevers
- Ginger to help with nausea, pain, and vomiting
- Gingko for managing asthma, fatigue, and tinnitus
- St. John’s Wort to help with depression, insomnia, and wound management
- Turmeric that may help with respiratory concerns, allergies, depression, and digestive issues
Herbal Teas and Infusions
Herbal teas and other infusions can naturally benefit your health by adding a calming and safe level of herbs to your body. This method has become very popular in recent years because herbal teas are often inexpensive, easy to prepare, and tasty. Note that they’re different from traditional teas and usually lack caffeine while retaining a similar taste profile as traditional tea. A few benefits of herbal teas include:
- Manage anxiety and decrease symptoms of depression for many people
- Calm down fear at the end of the night and potentially combat insomnia symptoms
- Help with minor pain management, cramps, and some inflammation
- Clean sinuses and make it easier to breathe at night
- Reduce stomach issues and improve digestion health
- Boost the immune system
If you’re interested in herbal teas, it’s important to talk with your doctor first to make sure that they’re right for you. As with all herbal remedies, you need to make sure that you aren’t allergic to any and that your medicines don’t interact with them. Thankfully, most herbal teas are very safe and should fit easily into most dietary routines without much difficulty.
Common and Effective Herbal Tea Options
If you’re interested in herbal tea recipes, here are a few options to consider:
- Chamomile tea to help with calming: add honey to give it a little more flavor
- Peppermint tea to boost digestive health: try this tea in the morning to get a little energy
- Hibiscus tea to reduce bad cholesterol and manage blood pressure: serve with a tasty treat
- Rooibos tea to decrease allergies: serve this tea to young children due to its mild flavor
- Lemon balm tea to boost antioxidant levels: pair it with a tasty cookie
- Passionflower tea to help manage anxiety: take for at least two weeks to see the benefits
- Passionflower tea is traditionally used to relieve anxiety and improve sleep.
Herbal supplements may work well as an alternative to traditional vitamins and minerals because they often provide many of the same benefits. Some supplements include these nutrients and much more, which makes them an interesting option to consider. They typically come in a variety of different types, including:
- Liquid extracts that you can add to your drinks or food using a dropper
- Teas that blend well with your general diet and improve your health
- Tablets and capsules that can be taken orally or dissolved in food
- Bath salts that may infuse the herbs directly into your skin
- Oils and ointments that you can apply topically to your body
Common herbal supplements include aloe vera (for burns), black cohosh (for night flashes and menopause), chamomile (for anxiety and insomnia), flaxseed (for cholesterol management), peppermint oil (for digestive problems), soy (for memory issues and cholesterol management), and tea tree oil (for acne, nail fungus, and various infections).
Note that supplements should be available not only at your local pharmacy but in supermarkets as well. That makes them fairly easy to find, especially if you want to try them as an alternative medicine option. But are they effective? Let’s take a look at a few types that have been carefully checked over the years in a myriad of different testing situations:
- Black Cohosh: Evidence exists linking this supplement to menstrual issues.
- Feverfew: Studies find that this supplement may help with migraine headaches.
- Goldenseal: Doctors believe that goldenseal may help manage germs and manage cases of flu.
- Green Tea: Over the years, green tea has been used to manage fatigue and even cancer pain.
- Hawthorn: Hawthorn supplements may help with angina and high blood pressure.
- Saw Palmetto: Doctors may use this herbal supplement for enlarged prostates.