Many traditional healers have used medicinal herbs and herbal preparations to treat the gamut of symptoms and illnesses. Ginger root, for example, can be effective for appetite stimulation and queasiness, while chamomile tea has been found to alleviate mild anxiety.
Many common remedies, such as aspirin (from willow bark) and decongestants (from eucalyptus), were originally derived from what we now refer to as herbal remedies.
Herbs are administered in many forms, including capsule, tablet, extract (liquid form), tea, ointment, and cream. Contact the American Botanical Council at www.herbalgram.org.Safety.
Because a plant or herb is called "natural," does not mean it is safe for your patient. It is especially important when using herbal medications to read the labels carefully and make sure that only the individual herb desired is present and in the dosage required. As with all remedies, more is not better.
Patients should buy herbs from a reputable manufacturer and know the correct name of the herb. As with prescription medications, there are many similarly named herbs. The wrong herb could be harmful. Also, be aware that serious interactions can occur between medicinal herbs and allopathic medication.
Unlike prescription or over-the-counter medications manufactured in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate most herbs. Exceptions are those herbs for which serious safety concerns have been expressed, such as ephedra (also known as ma huang) and comfrey.
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