herbal medicine herbs plants used for healing

Herbal or Botanical Medicine

What is Herbal or Botanical Medicine?

Herbal medicine is the use of herbs (plants or plant extracts) to help the body heal, provide nourishment and relieve symptoms while addressing the root cause of your health problems.

What conditions can you use herbs for?

There is an herb for just about everything.  The trick is to know the subtleties of each and which is most appropriate for the particular person, in what dose, which format (tincture, tablet, capsule, salve etc) and from which manufacturer.  Quality control with herbs makes a big difference and many products on health food store shelves contain little or no active ingredient from the herb that it is meant to contain.  Therefore, they don’t work and people get discouraged about using herbal treatment.

I tried herbal medicine and it didn’t work, why?

There are a few reasons why an herb might not have worked for you:

  1. It wasn’t the right one for you.  Because someone posted that xyz herb worked for them online, or a health food store employee or a site that sells herbs recommended it, it doesn’t mean that that particular herb is right for you.  There are subtle differences to herbs that make one more appropriate than another.  This is where I come in.
  2. Quality control.  Botanical medicines contain active ingredients.  These can be fragile or only present under certain conditions.  For example, the herb has to be picked at a certain time of year or from a particular geographical region to contain the active ingredient.   Premium manufacturers know this and collect and process herbs accordingly.  Most over-the-counter manufacturers don’t.
  3. Timing and Dosage.  For an herb to work it has to be taken at the right time of day, in the right amount and fairly consistently for the right length of time.

Because they’re natural all herbs are safe, right?

No.  Herbs can be toxic if taken incorrectly.  They can also interact with prescription medications.  For example, St John’s Wort, a popular anti-depressant herb, should NOT be taken with prescription anti-depressants.  Some herbal medicines should not be given to children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or to people with particular health problems like kidney or liver disease.

Some herbs should only be taken for a limited amount of time to ensure that they don’t accumulate in your system.

It always pays to seek professional guidance so that you are not wasting money on something that may be ineffective or even harmful.

“There’s no research proving that herbs are effective”

This assertion is 100% false. Anyone making this statement is intentionally trying to mislead you.  If you look at each of my Conditions pages, you’ll see at the bottom a small sampling of the research proving the safety and effectiveness of all of the treatments that I offer.   Here’s just one example:

According to our thorough meta-analysis ginger is safe and well tolerated, and decreases the severity of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), and may lower the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting, which in turn may reduce antiemetic drug demand, suggesting that ginger may be a useful alternative to antiemetic medications to alleviate PONV.  Phytomedicine. 2018 Nov 15;50:8-18. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2018.09.007. Epub 2018 Sep 5.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): An alternative for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. A meta-analysis.
Tóth B1, Lantos T2, Hegyi P3, Viola R4, Vasas A1, Benkő R4, Gyöngyi Z5, Vincze Á6, Csécsei P7, Mikó A3, Hegyi D5, Szentesi A3, Matuz M4, Csupor D8

For help with figuring out which herbs are best for you or any health problem, book an appointment here or call the office for more information at 416-481-0222.

by Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND