Medicinal Herbs, Uses, and Cautions
My goal is to teach safe herbal use of common wild medicinal plants that grow all around us, conservation and cultivation of endangered medicinal herbs, as well as herb growing information for gardeners. You'll find lots of information about medicinal herbs and their uses as herbal remedies here, as well as hundreds of color plant photos to help you identify wild herbs.
If you are new to herbs, read Using Medicinal Herbs below.
Licensed Medicinal Herb Stock Photography for Web Sites, Publications and Personal Use.
Using Medicinal Herbs Safely and Ethically
The choice to use herbal remedies should not be taken lightly. If you use medicinal herbs, you must take responsibility for your own decisions, and make informed choices. Everyone has different DNA and "body chemistry". When I choose to use a healing medicinal plant, I research it extensively. Know your health status. Get a check up. Awareness of health problems can help you decide which herbs may be helpful and which to avoid. One example would be if you have lupus or any auto immune disorder of family history, you would want to avoid alfalfa and alfalfa sprouts.
Medicinal Herb Sources
Consider the source of the medicinal herb you want to use. Determine if it is it a common plant that you can wildcraft locally? Is it an herb that you can grow in your garden? If you need to buy the herb, is it available from sustainable sources? Is it ethically harvested or wildcrafted?
There are many wild medicinal herbs available all around us. Many "weeds" like Dandelion, Burdock, and Cleavers are plants with medicinal properties that can be used for herbal remedies. Some plants can be ethically wildcrafted without harming (and in some cases, as in harvesting invasive plants, may help) populations of native plants. Many other herbs are grown on herb farms as alternative crops. If we expect herbal healing from Nature, we must not harm her in the process of taking natural medicine. If you are considering using an endangered plant, is there a common medicinal plant that can be used instead?
Medicinal Herbs and Health Considerations
Consult with a doctor about any medicinal herbs you take. As with any other substance you come in contact with, medicinal herbs can cause unexpected sensitivities, allergies or side effects in some people. However, many herbs can be used safely by following a few common sense guidelines.
Herbs are most likely to cause problems in people taking prescription medications, as some herbal remedies can adversely interact with pharmaceuticals, or when used in excess. For example, you would not want to take blood thinning herbal supplements with blood thinning pharmaceuticals. If you are taking a prescription for a condition, you would not want to take an herb for the same condition without a doctor's approval. St. John's Wort, among other medicinal herbs, is known to interfere with the actions of many prescription medications. Wild Lettuce is considered safe in small doses, some people have injected a concentrated resin and ended up in the Emergency room.
If you are new to herbal medicine, don't use medicinal plants with toxic properties like Pokeweed, Bloodroot, or May Apple root. Those are for experienced herbalists only. Research herbal side effects, safety issues and interactions of any herbs you are taking.
Mistaken identity of wild plants can lead to accidental poisoning. Study your field guides, and learn about poisonous plants that grow wild in your area, so you know to avoid them. Many medicinal plants have poisonous look-a-likes.
Research reputable web sites and publications for information about herbs.
Be careful of any web site offering a "miracle cure" or "secret ingredients". You should be able to research all of the ingredients of any herbal supplement before you purchase it.
Alt Nature is a fantastic resource for the students at CPR Solutions who are interested in the use of natural herbs to promote healthy and strong lungs.