There are many families and individuals who do not visit the doctor if they’re sick. Instead, they rely on herbs, minerals and botanicals-“alternative medicine“. Natural remedies have been used for centuries; even now, 80% of developing countries use herbal medicine (and most people using them in Western society are immigrates from developing countries). With proper use, alternative medicine can complement or even be combined with prescribed medicines.
Here are a few common ones:
Chamomile-The flowering tops of this plant are used to make teas, liquid extracts, capsules or tablets for sleeping and anxiety aids, upset stomach, gas and diarrhea. Chamomile can also be applied to the skin as a cream, lotion or ointment for various skin conditions. It can even be used as a mouth rinse to treat mouth ulcers resulting from cancer treatment. It’s been said to ease the pain of arthritis and menstrual cramps and that bathing in it can reduce hemorrhoid symptoms. DO NOT USE if you’re taking an anticoagulant, are pregnant or are allergic to daisies.
SIDE EFFECTS can include: Skin rashes, throat swelling, shortness of breath and a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
St. John’s Wort-This herb can improve mild depression. But it DOES NOT interact well with some medications and may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. So if your depression is mild and/or you’re not taking other medication, it’s OK.
This can also be used for sleep disorders and nerve pain. St. John’s Wort can be used as a sedative, a balm for wounds, burns and insect bites and to treat malaria.
SIDE EFFECTS can be: Increased sensitivity to sunlight, anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, sexual dysfunction or headaches.
Garlic-This can be bought as a pill, capsule, powder or in its regular form (cloves-they can be eaten raw or cooked; in its raw state, the cloves can be used to make oils and liquid extracts-and “bulbs“). It’s used to treat high cholesterol, heart disease certain types of cancer (including stomach and colon), and lower high blood pressure. It’s possible that garlic may also slowthe development of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
SIDE EFFECTS: Bad breath and body odor, heartburn, allergic reactions (more common with raw garlic) and upset stomach.
Echinacea-This is believed to boost the immune system and help prevent colds (one particular species, Echinacea purpurea, works best). DO NOT take if you’re allergic to ragweed, are taking drugs that can hurt the liver or have an autoimmune disease.
Aloe Vera-The clear gel from the leaves is often used as an ointment for burns and other conditions. The green part of the leaf that surrounds the gel can be used to produce a juice or a dried substance taken orally for diabetes, asthma and epilepsy.
SIDE EFFECTS include: the gel inhibiting healing of deep surgical wounds. Using this orally can decrease the absorption of many drugs and may cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps.