With all of the side effects that prescription medications can cause, it's no wonder more and more people are turning to herbal medicines instead. While some herbs do still have the potential to cause side effects, herbs are natural, and they tend to be gentle healers. Regardless of what herbal medicine you are using or planning to use, though, there are a few tips and pieces of advice that you'd best adhere to.
Ask your doctor about drug interactions.
If you are taking any over-the-counter medication or prescription medication, do check with your doctor to make sure it's safe for you to also take herbal medicines. Since herbal medicines are active in the body, they can sometimes interact with other medications and lead to side effects. Your doctor may tell you to avoid certain herbs, or they may tell you to discontinue taking them if you experience certain reactions or symptoms.
Start with a low dose.
Because herbal medicines are not as widely researched and regulated as pharmaceuticals, the doses that are needed are not so widely known. An herbal medicine bottle will typically have a range of acceptable doses. Always start on the low end of this dose range, see how you feel, and only increase your dose if needed. Otherwise, you may be wasting medicine by taking more than you actually need. Don't assume you need a larger dose because of weight, either. Everyone absorbs and utilizes certain herbs differently, and body weight is not as big of a factor as you might think.
Buy it fresh.
Most herbs lose their potency over time. So while you may be tempted to buy a 3-year supply of your herbal medicine when you find it on sale, this is not a wise idea. It will lose much of its potency by the time you use the last of it. Most herb bottles should have a "fresh until" date on them. Only buy as much as you can use by that date.
Don't be afraid of blends.
When people start taking herbal medicine, they often start with a single herb. This is not a bad approach, but often, there are blends of herbs that are more effective than any single herb on its own. If you find a blend that is recommended for your condition, do not shy away from it.
Herbal medicine can be a natural, gentle way to heal your body and your mind. With the tips above, you'll be making the best of it.