The herbal remedies that may benefit your health
If you’re only using herbs to boost the flavour in your food, you may be missing out on a slew of untapped health benefits.
Herbal remedies – using the seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flowers of a plant for medicinal purposes – have been used in practice in China, India, Egypt and North America for centuries. Today, as more and more clinical studies are proving the efficacy of certain herbs, what had once been dismissed, science is now finding as a legitimate treatment option for a number of different conditions.
Ian Lloyd, a pharmacist and pharmacy owner in Victoria, BC, says that 80 per cent of his patients are now using herbals, and they’re predominately women.
“As a pharmacist, I’m always looking at the clinical evidence, and there is good indication that herbals can help for certain issues,” he says. “Plus, my patients are constantly asking about herbals because they want to take charge of their health.”
For those who are interested in exploring herbals, options abound. In addition to supplements, herbals can be consumed in teas, tinctures and topical treatments. You might have to experiment to find what works best for you. Tinctures, for example, are highly concentrated and more easily digested than supplements but often have a bitter alcohol base. Talk to a certified naturopath, herbalist or other healthcare provider trained in herbal medicine to determine the best format and dosage for you.
As with any new treatment, it’s essential to let your pharmacist, physician and other healthcare providers know about any herbals you’re considering in case they interact with other medications, says Lloyd. For example, herbs like feverfew and ginkgo biloba shouldn’t be mixed with warfarin and other blood thinners because the combination increases your risk of bleeding.
Ready to learn more? Here are some common conditions and the herbs that may help.