Different ways to use herbs
Natural growing herbs differ from synthetic compounds, as the natural herb contains many ingredients and compounds that work together and in most cases produce a synergistic effect.
A good example is Meadowsweet, which contains salicylates, which is like aspirin, but at the same time contains other healing compounds that would, in this example, help to buffer and protect the mucous membranes from the corrosive effect of the salicylates, something that you do not get with synthetically produced compounds. With this in mind it makes perfect sense to rather use natural materials, since they are more "whole" - treating the problem and preventing unwanted side effects - as in the salicylate example cited.
The compounds in herbs are powerful, and because of this, herbs must be taken and used in formulations in moderation, as excess, just like the pure extract of the active component, can have a hazardous effect.
Just because it is natural does not mean that it is always safe and due care and respect must be given.
When looking at using herbs, keep in mind that the entire plant cannot always be used. This varies from plant to plant, where some types allow the entire plant to be used, and other types, only selected parts, such as leaves or flowers, can be used.
A point in case is Elderflower the flower has some wonderful therapeutic properties for internal use such as relieving mucus etc., yet the leaves and raw berries can be poisonous when taken internally. The leaves can however be used externally for burns and the ripe berries are used in juices and sauces.
Pregnant mothers, the elderly, babies, people with medical conditions or on certain medication, must first consult their health practitioner before using herbal compounds to treat illnesses.
For more information on herbs that must be avoided during pregnancy and lactation, please click here.
Never mind how miraculous some medicinal herbs are, they can interact / interfere with certain drugs, and with this in mind we have compiled a simple table to use as a guide. To access this information regarding medicinal herb and drug interaction, please click here.