Using herbs as medicine or a tonic to improve health is an ancient practice with changing attitudes and beliefs about its use. Historically, there were times when herbal medicine was highly respected and those well-versed in herbal remedies were honored members of the community. There were also very difficult times when one paid dearly for dabbling into what was believed to be the dark world of the demonically-inspired use of healing herbs. Female herbalists were actually burned alive during the witch hunts of Medieval times.
And then came the more recent snake oil years, where financial gain took a clear upper hand. The vulnerable and gullible were sold quack medicines that often contained little, if any, therapeutic ingredients or were dangerously poisonous in large doses. Rulings by the US government in the early- and mid-1900s largely put a stop to the sale of these.
A good example is the “Microbe Killer“ that German immigrant William Radam started selling throughout the United States in the 1880s. Mr. Radam’s product claimed to “Cure all Diseases,” and even embossed the promise on the glass bottle that held the miracle cure. In spite of Radam’s medicine being a therapeutically useless (and in large quantities, actively poisonous) diluted solution of sulfuric acid, colored with red wine, it was enormously successful when it comes to dollars and cents.
The positive attitude towards, and acceptance of, herbal remedies took a nose dive as a result of greed and lack of integrity. And, as a whole, America went on to build the modern medicine we have today, largely ignoring the many benefits of a more natural approach to health.
We have come a long way since those days, and while we still, on rare occasion, hear accusations of making “snake oil”, the tone shifts immediately for anyone who will listen to what really inspired the work of our founder. (Read: A Mother’s Guide to Herbal Extracts: Saving Tristan).
Without a doubt, we all benefit from the tide driven by consumers wanting to have better health naturally, plus our shared positive experiences with natural remedies continues to change the way herbs and other dietary supplements are seen today.
Interestingly, the “millennials,” those born between 1982 and 2004, are open and very interested in natural healing. This generation is currently the largest consumer of natural remedies and dietary supplements. And, of course, this bodes well for the future of natural healing and a more integrative approach to medicine.
While we feel the acceptance of natural healing is beneficial for everyone, it’s important to note that respect of the remedy, whatever it may be, is not to be taken lightly. Some of the same precautions need to be taken when using a natural remedy as is necessary when using pharmaceuticals.
One day, we got a call at the office where a customer was asking if she could drink an entire 4 ounce bottle of the Gentle Birth Formula to bring on labor since she was past her due date. If you’re familiar with the product, you’ll know that a 4 oz. bottle should be consumed in multiple daily doses of ¼ tsp. in the 5 weeks leading up to one’s due date.
We were all admittedly horrified at the idea, but apparently a friend of the caller had done this, believing there could be no harm in it because, after all, it’s a natural product.
The caller stated that her friend had her baby within 24 hours of this massive dose. Her quick delivery was not shocking. In fact, we were surprised that it took even that long for the baby to make its appearance! The quick birth was likely uncomfortable for the mother, stressful for her provider, and traumatic for the baby.
While this is a bit of an extreme example, it is easy to think that because an herbal remedy is natural there is no harm in
· Taking a lot of it (after all if a little is good, wouldn’t more be even better?)
· Giving the remedy to a small child
· Taking the remedy while expecting or nursing
Using natural remedies comes with a responsibility to use them wisely. And more, as in larger doses, is generally not better. In fact, taking small doses more often is a much wiser and more effective approach. For instance, small to moderate doses of an immune-boosting remedy every 2 hours is generally agreed by herbalists and natural health practitioners to be most effective when the onset of symptoms occurs.
Respecting herbal and natural remedies is really the key to success. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of healing herbs we can benefit from. Perhaps even some yet to be discovered. They all have their own specific health advantages and levels of safety. Gentle herbs like Echinacea, Chamomile, and Elderberry, just to name a few, are safe for even the newborn baby. Others, like Goldenseal and Barberry pack a more powerful punch, and should be used cautiously or by older individuals, usually based on weight.
If you’ve been curious about herbal remedies, but don’t know where to start, or if you’re already enjoying their benefits, and know exactly what you want, we invite you to visit Mountain Meadow Herbs. Enjoy hand-made extracts, produced fresh daily, and sold in effective formulas or as single extracts. We are natural health solutions you can trust.