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(For educational information only.
No parts of this document are to be taken as diagnosis or prescription for any illness.
See your Healthcare Practitioner for any personal health concerns).
In the classes I teach, I find one of the things
that seems to worry people a lot is how easy is it to poison oneself. The answer is both
rather difficult and quite easy. It depends greatly on not so much as what herb it is but
how much of that herb you are taking. I don't know who said it first but a good rule of
thumb to remember is:
" There are no poisonous herbs.
Only poisonous dosages."
Even deadly poisonous herbs, in minute dosages, are used to heal. Homeopathic medicines
are so minute you can't detect any of it's chemical constituents in analysis and yet they
are widely reported to be extremely beneficial (in double blind studies). This is not to
say that you should go out and take tiny nibbles of known poisonous herbs because it is
said to be beneficial: leave this up to a professional Healthcare Practitioner! The most
widely known example is Digitalis: small doses are said to be good for many heart
conditions, while a larger dose will stop the heart. And so, the opposite is true that
large doses of innocuous herbs can do a great deal of damage. Anything taken regularly
over a long period of time is stored in the body and could create a condition of toxicity.
The best way for the user to protect themselves is to first educate themselves before they
consume anything. This can be done by studying the many herbals available today, taking
courses and classes by the many Herbalists, Natural Healthcare Practitioners and schools
of natural healing. And second remember: All Things in Moderation. Even that cup of
chamomile tea at bedtime can be causing you problems, especially if you find you can't get
to sleep without it. Different Herbalists and Healthcare Practitioners have different
"formulas" to avoid toxicity. Some say to leave one day a week where you don't
take whatever herb you are using. Others say a week a month. Still others a month every
six months. It depends on the Practitioner's opinion, the herb in question and the illness
or condition being treated. However, this is often abandoned in the case of serious, long
term illness. Again, ask your Practitioner their opinion.
A good example of too much of a good thing is a story of one family and Echinacea.
Echinacea is reported to be a very useful immune system "booster". I noticed
this family was buying a lot of Echinacea, quite a lot: tincture, capsules and tea,
purchased on a regular basis for several months I finally asked "What are you doing
with all that Echinacea?". They felt that was a stupid question: They were taking it
of course. I tried to convince them if they were consuming that much of this herb they
were tempting disaster. Echinacea is not a tonic herb: that is an herb that "feeds
the system". Basically, it is a stimulant: an immune system stimulant and if you take
too much too long you over stimulate and then you "crash".
They didn't listen
and sure enough they started a cycle of constant illness. One flu, cold or virus after
another; if it was going around, they caught it or couldn't get rid of it once they had
it. Their immune systems had been sorely tried and compromised from constant stimulation.
Finally, they listened and stopped taking the herb and built their immune systems strength
back up, mostly with rest, gentle exercise, plenty of fresh water and a good diet; which
is one of the best ways to keep your immune system and general health going anyway.
Echinacea is said to do wonders for various illnesses and their symptoms with short term
immune system stimulation. It should never be taken over the long term (general reports
are regular daily use over several weeks is safe). If you are considering using herbs for
your family's health this is definitely one you should look into and educate yourself
about. This family was actually lucky in that what they did was repairable, though it did
take almost six months before they felt all of them were back to normal.
One last bit of advice before you take an herb for
the first time is to start very slowly. Always take smaller doses in the beginning just in
case you have one of the rare allergies to whatever herb it is. For example, if you know
you are allergic to one plant, check what family it is in and be cautious with other
members in that family. You may or may not have a similar reaction, so if you need to take
a similar herb, proceed with caution; start with small doses.
With education and common sense you should be able
to use herbs for you and your family's health safely. Not only are herbs beautiful,
abundant and mostly inexpensive they are also effective.
Also by Tephyr: Root Harvesting, Getting Kids to Take Herbs, Herbal
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