People everywhere are once again turning to herb therapy to maintain health and combat minor ailments such as colds and flu. The increased concern and incidence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is one of many good reasons to turn to more natural cures for our more common ailments.


Modern medicine is rooted in herbal tradition and many drugs have been developed by chemically synthesizing the active constituents of plant herbs. Some of the more common examples are aspirin derived from the bark of the white willow tree and digitalis (used for heart irregularities) which comes from the foxglove plant.


Here are some of the more common questions to ask yourself when considering herb therapy.


Q. If Im not sick should I still take herbs?


A. Herbs are utilized in many ways, as tonics, for healing, to restore balance and reduce stress. When used to restore tone and balance take the herb for 4-6 weeks then discontinue use. For healing use herbs that match and relieve symptoms. A symptom can be something as simple as fatigue or tiredness.  If you know that fatigue and tiredness may lead to flu or cold start therapy right away since herbs work best if taken before symptoms are full blown. When your symptoms subside discontinue use.


Q. There are so many ways to take an herb, should I use capsules, tablets, teas or tinctures?


A. Most choose a form convenient for their lifestyle that being tablets or capsules, but there are advantages to liquids such as tinctures and teas. The active ingredients in liquid herbs are more easily assimilated and are more potent without the binders and fillers found in tablets and capsules.


Q. Is it better to take a single herb or combination formulas?


A. It depends on whom you ask and the nature of the problem. My thoughts are keep it as simple as you can. If you have simple indigestion, nausea, insomnia or minor headache a single herb may be all thats called for. If you have the flu with sinus congestion, aches and pains, headache and more, a combination of herbs that act synergistically may restore balance more quickly.


Q. Are there side effects when you use herbs while taking prescription medications?


A. Herbs are plant medicines and they can be very powerful. Using an herb to address a problem for which you are already taking a prescription medication for is not a wise idea. Simple herbs such as ginger, garlic and parsley used in cooking may be the best way to utilize the healing power of herbs for those taking prescription medications.


Herbs give us the ability to take more responsibility for our health and healing. If taken as directed they are safe and have little or no side effects. Next time you have a nagging headache or indigestion, and have to go out anyway, why not head to the health food store for some herbs. Your body will say thank you. Till next time, Rebecca