Herbal Remedies - the risks

With my other hat on, I am a writer of fiction. When I meet other writers, they don’t ask me, like everyone else, what they can take for their insomnia or anxiety or arthritis. They ask, ‘What would you use to poison someone?’ ‘What would you give to cause an abortion?’ And of course, I wouldn’t; I use herbs to promote wellbeing, and I’ve sworn an oath to that effect. But for most of human history, herbs have been medicine for everything, including doing harm to other people.

Which is a way of saying, be careful what you use. There are plenty of poisons out there, and plenty of adulteration of what should be ‘good’ remedies. If you buy over the counter, buy reputable brands, not the cheaper ones with the exaggerated claims. If a thing sounds too good to be true, it probably is! There have been ‘herbal’ creams for eczema that turn out to contain steroids, and there are certainly thousands of products that do not contain what they claim.

Whenever a herb becomes a superstar, demand from the affluent West will skyrocket, and inevitably, other things get mixed in with the herb you’re really after. Established suppliers with a reputation to protect have stringent testing procedures, and it’s very unlikely that you’ll come to harm from using their products. Likewise, if you go to a qualified practitioner who makes up a tailor-made prescription for you, that should be fine. But if you buy online from a website full of astounding stories and highly-coloured pictures, there are no guarantees that you will get what you pay for. Remember that you are hoping to improve your health, not damage it, and choose wisely.

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