Herbs make for a critical therapeutic for particular health concerns and a supportive measure in many other health issues.
Here are 10 reasons why you could add herbal medicine to your health regimen.
- Easy First Change that can be Very Impactful
Making health changes can be one of the hardest things for people to do. That’s why I suggest herbal medicine for people unable to commit to significant lifestyle and diet changes. Instead, they make tea once a day or take a specific dose of an herbal tincture throughout the day. They may even just need to apply an herbal oil or breath and essential oil blend. They don’t change their schedule much if at all yet they can still get the benefits of phytonutrients.
Herbal medicines can take the edge off for those dealing with draining symptoms that prevent them from committing to more significant changes. Taking the edge off can boost a person’s openness to more therapeutics that will make them feel even better, even healthier. The ability of herbal medicine to ease our symptoms makes it an excellent step in a complementary healthcare plan.
Tincture – a liquid extract that is made from plant material soaking in an alcohol solution that dissolves and incorporates phytonutrient.
(technically, vanilla extract is a tincture if made with actual vanilla bean instead of flavoring)
- The Most Stress Relieving Supplement or Health Change You Can Make
Conventional supplements (capsules, tablets, drops, etc.) often become another chore which sabotages the supplement plan. Most supplements don’t have an immediate effect that we value enough to welcome supplements into our daily routine. However, herbal medicine can be both simple and pleasurable.
The simple act of drinking tea will often calm peoples minds and bodies if they sit down and sip the tea. The effects are even stronger when using the right herbs for mental and physical relaxation. Herbal medicine can impact your health concern and help you manage stress at the same time. This basic characteristic of herbal medicine makes the difference between failing a “supplement” plan and embracing the change.
Simple and pleasurable.
Who would have ever considered those words as adjectives for a healthy behavior.
(actually I can think of a few)
- Whole Food “Supplement” That is Non-Processed and Holistic
We often hear the saying “Food is Medicine.” Whole foods contain nutrients and natural, health impacting chemicals from anthocyanidins to lycopene. However, the chemical makeup of our whole foods has changed through selective breeding (and now genetic engineering) for marketability including color, shape, ability to stay ripe, and ability to withstand extremes during transportation. Since the medicinal value of food was not the driving factor for selective breeding, their chemical makeup has become less therapeutic.
On the other hand, medicinal herbs are not valuable unless they have a medicinal quality so breeding these plants have not weekend them nearly as much as whole foods. Additionally, herbal medicines are minimally processed. Unlike most supplements which are highly processed to the point of being produced in a lab, you can make herbal medicine from seed to medicine all on your own. They have the added benefit of providing a wide variety of phytonutrients rather than an isolated chemical that you might find in supplements or pharmaceuticals.
If food is medicine, then herbs are botanical pharmaceuticals.
- Helpful for the Sub-Clinical Issues that your Doctor Doesn’t Know How to Address
Conventional medicine shines in extreme cases of poor health. However, the tools of conventional medicine are lacking for many people dealing with minor symptoms, irritations, aches, and “pre-conditions.” Doctors often have their hands tied until a sub-clinical condition gets worse because it can be inappropriate to use pharmaceuticals for “minor” issues. This type of situation is precisely why herbalist consults are valuable.
Maybe the best example is regular, minor gut issues: bloating, irritation, constipation/diarrhea, and appetite issues. These problems may eventually turn into irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac, diverticulitis, or gallbladder disease but conventional medicine has no useful tools without significant side effects. Herbal medicine shines when it comes to gut issues. With the proper herbal medicine, you may drastically reduce symptoms in a way conventional medicine could not.
Herbal Medicine Shines For:
Stress — muscle relaxation — gut symptoms —
cold symptoms — fevers — insomnia — chronic inflammation —
mild depression and mood issues — liver function — immune function
- Begin the Cycle of Self-Care in a way that Amplifies Vitality
Self-care is vital yet so often disregarded. Busy lifestyles often push “me time” off the to-do list before anything else, and it can be hard to go from no self-care to a full-on self-care practice. One natural starting place involves herbal medicine.
Start your self-care focus by taking time out in the morning or evening to heat water and brew some tea. Plan for it and make it a time where you can sit down and enjoy the drink. It can even be a flavorful tea from the grocery store. You can hang with friends and family during this time, read a book, journal, or watch television. No matter what you do, this is time for you to relax and forget about your work or worries. In time, it can become a healthy habit that amplifies your vitality, AKA feeling strong and lively.
Tea and herbal infusions have a way of boosting vitality when we drink it regularly.
Herbal Infusion – this is a drink made by steeping herbs in hot water that is often referred to as a “tea” but unlike tea, infusions are not made with the tea leaf from Camellia sinensis.
- Complementary Care to Improve your Conventional Care Outcome
Complementary care is the supportive therapeutics that you utilize in conjunction with your conventional medical care. Complementary care can be used for symptom relief, to support your body’s natural ability for healing, or even to improve the outcome of complementary medical care. What I’m saying is that taking the correct herbal medicine could work synergistically with your pharmaceutical medication. This holistic use of conventional medical care with complementary care is highly developed in China where hospitals hire a wider variety of professionals than medical doctors and nurses.
One of my favorite examples is herbal support for cancer. A complimentary use of certain herbs along with chemo may reduce the risk of developing a resistance to the cancer treatment. This pairing could make the chemo more effective. There is a pump in the cell wall that takes foreign substances like chemo and spits it out fo the cell. This mechanism is used by our cells as a form of protection, but in the case of cancer, we want that foreign substance to stay in the cell and cause cancer cell death. When combining herbs that inhibit this pump with a chemo plan, the chemo can remain in the cell longer and complete its job. This complementary use of herbs ultimately can improve the outcome for the individual as seen in Chinese cancer treatments.
Herbs can be used for clinical results when specialists work together to form a holistic health care plan.
- Dense Phytonutrient Source for Holistic Health Support
Phytonutrients are plant chemicals with beneficial health impacts. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients however medicinal herbs are very dense in phytonutrients. Some of these phytonutrients were isolated and used as pharmaceuticals when modern, chemistry-based medicine was just developing. Today many pharmaceuticals are based on a phytonutrients but are chemically altered in a way either in structure or chemical makeup. It’s clear that plants can have valuable, biochemical impacts on the body that result in useful health changes, the trick is gaining the knowledge to use these herbs effectively.
Unlike isolated chemicals which are used as pharmaceuticals, herbs contain a wide range of phytonutrients. The variety of phytonutrients can often mean a more balanced physiological effect that addresses the weaknesses of the individual in numerous ways. The body has checks and balances so that phytonutrients that a person needs will have a great impact while phytonutrients that they don’t need will not overwhelm the body’s natural processes.
I prefer whole herbs providing a variety of phytonutrients because they work holistically, leading to beneficial effects for the whole picture.
- Sparks Mindfulness Toward our Body and it’s Health Status
It can be challenging to pay attention to our bodies so that we notice when things are going wrong. Those who are driven, busy, and used to the standard American regimen can easily ignore symptoms until they become clinically treatable. My theory is that some people aren’t neurologically wired to notice what is going on in their body as well as others. Luckily, taking medical herbal tea is a great trick to help spark mindfulness towards our body regardless of our wiring.
Taking medicinal herbs, particularly infusions (tea), is a great place to start. Sit in an upright position and take a few breaths. Once your body is relaxed and you’re mind isn’t busy, notice how your body feels. Begin to drink the medicinal infusion and pay attention to changes in the body. The most common feeling is relaxation but this is at least in part to forgetting about your concerns and taking time to relax. Notice your stomach, your heart, intestines, small muscles, etc. Do you feel a stimulant effect or a change in body or skin temperature? Do you notice any changes in the focus of the body? Does anything spring into action like digestion or symptoms diminish like pain?
With mindfulness towards your body, you’ll be able to notice when foods and lifestyle changes support your health or impact your body negatively. Use this to guide you in the best diet and lifestyle regimen for your health.
- Reduces Reliance on Over The Counter Medications
Over the counter pharmaceuticals are a blessing and a curse. They can provide great relief in certain situations, but regular use can lead to unwanted side effects. The most common over the counter pharmaceutical I can think of that can cause bodily harm is NSAIDs like Advil and Ibuprofen. NSAIDs reduce inflammation, and so they help with pain and cold symptoms however they damage the gut lining. Although the gut will heal with occasional use of NSAIDs, regular use could cause gut damage to quick for the body to fully recover. Ultimately, NSAIDs lead to thousands of deaths each year.
Instead of relying on over the counter drugs for regular use, you might consider addressing the issue with herbal medicine, specifically a personalized herbal formula. The herbal protocol for headaches may focus on improving blood flow to the brain, relaxing muscle tissue, reducing mental stress, and improving hydration. If you must take an NSAID, the formula could include an herb to protect the gut lining so that you can protect from side effects while slowly reducing your reliance on the drug. This strategy is helpful for those who can’t cut pharmaceutical use as much as they like but would like to minimize adverse side effects.
Using herbal medicine to reduce our need for over the counter drugs will reduce adverse side effects from the drugs and provide phytonutrients for overall health improvement.
- Support the Body / Don’t Suppress the Body
This is a tricky one. Herbs can support healing by up-regulating physiological processes of repair and recovery. Many pharmaceuticals suppress bodily functions to reduce symptoms. This is the case for cold medicines like Mucinex, which stops the production of protective mucus, and NSAID medication, that inhibits inflammation necessary for immune activities. Although herbs aren’t likely to suppress bodily functions, they can overstimulate the body. If someone is smart about their herbal use, they can support biological processes and ensure a more favorable outcome in the long run.
The best example I can think of is herbal use for fevers. When we get an infection, our body will set its temperature higher than normal. The fever creates an inhabitable environment for the invading microbe, and it increases our metabolic processes to fight off the invader. Many will use a medication that suppresses the fever temperature which ultimately reduces our body’s ability to fight off the microbe. Instead, herbs can be used to modulate the fever process so that the fever is supported yet unable to overheat the person. Caring for fevers in this way can help the body fight off the infection more quickly and thoroughly, preventing the lingering cold symptoms of a weak immune response after pharmaceutical use.
If we support our body now, then it can stay strong through our old age and reduce our reliance on medication in the future.
Herbal medicine can be a strong ally in a holistic health regimen. Western, herbal formulations acknowledge anatomy/physiology and pathophysiology of the person and their health concern. Western herbalists will utilize herbs with useful herbal actions and proven biological effects to spark beneficial changes in the body.
If you see an herbalist like myself, you can expect an intake where we go over your concerns, health history, and medications. I take this information and formulate an herbal plan that will target your concerns. You receive your herbal medicine with directions soon after the intake meeting. Then I get your feedback after using the herbal medicine and make changes if necessary. I typically utilize herbal infusions (tea) and tinctures (alcohol extracts), but we can use any form of herbal preparation.
If you’re interested in a personalized formula for you and your health concerns, contact Matthew at Lifestyles in Nutrition for an herbal consult.
Call 303-816-3713 or email MKoontz@LifestylesinNutrition.com today!