FourFourSeconds ago, a reader sent me an email asking whether the medicinal properties of a certain plant or mushroom could be used in a pill or a topical cream.
The question led me to an article by the respected herbalist Dr. David Nutt.
Dr. Nutt is known for his advocacy of the use of herbal medicine for treating health issues.
He said in a phone interview, “I don’t know about the common folk, but it’s a little difficult to find products that actually have the full benefit.
And if you don’t have that benefit, it doesn’t feel like a drug.
I think a lot of people who think they have it might be wasting their time.
They might not really know how it works.”
The article in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology states that there are no proven pharmaceutical treatments for common health conditions, but some herbs and other botanical products may help alleviate some symptoms of chronic illness.
In one study, for instance, one herbal remedy used in an experimental form to treat insomnia helped the patient sleep for nine hours at night.
Dr. Nutts article was written in 2005, but he noted the current state of medical knowledge in terms of how to use medicinal plants for treating specific conditions.
He also said there are some herbal remedies for treating arthritis, arthritis pain, arthritis spasms, and even certain skin conditions.
But when you combine this with a prescription drug, there is a big problem.
“A lot of times people are taking a medicine to relieve pain,” Dr. Nanai says.
“And it is not something that’s supposed to be taken daily.”
And then there’s the fact that the plant or herb can have adverse effects.
“If it has the same effect as a pill, it could be a good thing for your liver, but if it’s something that can cause cancer, or you have arthritis, or if you have depression or anxiety or whatever, then it’s probably not something you want to use,” Nanai adds.
There are other health risks, too.
“One of the things that I was taught as a child, that I would try to avoid was anything that might cause a reaction, even something that could cause allergic reactions,” she says.
“But I’ve had allergic reactions to several products, and it was just a case of saying, ‘Hey, I know that these are the products that are probably causing this reaction.'”
What can you do to avoid the side effects?
“If you take it with a medicine, then there are a lot more risks involved.
You’re basically taking a pill with an ingredient that is going to cause a drug reaction, and that could potentially make you sick.
And you could end up with a serious side effect,” Dr Nanai explains.
There’s also the issue of safety.
“If you have a reaction to something that is already in your body, there are risks of having a reaction in the next time you use that thing,” she adds.
And when there are so many risks involved, what’s the best way to make sure you’re taking a safe product?
“The best thing to do is to just go to a trusted source like a doctor or pharmacist, and talk to them about it.
They can probably tell you what it’s going to do,” Nanay says.
If you’d like to read more about herbal medicine or the medicinal benefits of specific plants, check out the FourFourHome article.