Welcome to The Herbal Nexusherbalnexus@rootgrafix.com
This information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. If conditions worsen, or persist, consult your healthcare practitioner.
The Herbal Nexus brings you information on a selection of Herbs. If you do not see an herb listed which you'd like to read about, please leave us email, and we'll push it up on our "to do" list. Thank you!
Our purpose in creating this site is to provide a space for the discussion of herbs in folklore and medicine. We do not ourselves sell herbs. By remaining non-commercial, we do not have to contend with any temptation to gloss over problems with specific herbs in order to increase sales of those herbs. However, we are now an Associate of Amazon.com, and promote the sale of such educational materials. We encourage you to read books with a critical eye -- most have their own strengths, and yes, weaknesses.
Health care specialists | chemicals | organics | active ingredient concentrations | cross-reactions and contra-indications | symptoms and masking of problems | homeopathy.
* Where possible, references are provided for all information. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before using any herbs for medical use. We are NOT health care professionals; merely hobbyists. Much of what we relate is from the large body of herbal folklore, and is not in many cases confirmed by scientific analysis. Often this is because such studies may not been done yet. On the other hand, often this is because scientific research fails to uphold folkloric claims. This site has been created out of sheer interest; it is likely that these pages will not contain complete information.
Notes on Medicinals and on a philosophy of Herbalism:
* From our perspective, a practical approach to herbs as medicine seems to lie in keeping one's feet firmly planted both in Western (M.D.) and in "alternative" medicines, eschewing the extremes of either/or viewpoints. Life may be nuance.
* Much insight into the healing arts seems possible when practitioners of all forms of medicine can talk with one another, sharing and pooling their knowledge. ALL information should be taken with a few grains of salt. Seek out experts, and listen to them. There are wise medical doctors (as well as the other kind...); there are fraudulent or misguided holistic healers, chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists, and more -- as well as the honorable and knowledgeable kinds. You are strongly advised to find a good and trustworthy professional health specialist, and consult with him or her. One major tool Western medicine has is the scientific method, where treatments are subjected to a battery of tests to determine efficacy and potency (and lethality) of the substance in question. Abuses of the method do exist, but this is not the fault of the method per se. Elements of non-Western medicine are sometimes amenable to the scientific method, in studies of proper design.
* We are not such experts. We are not professionally trained in the fields of herbology or medicine.
* There are many who seek holistic methods of healing and who are drawn to herbology out of the fear of chemicals in prescribed and over the counter drugs. Before you use herbs, however, please consider that all herbs (and every material substance) are made up of chemicals -- primarily carbon, hydrogen and oxygen compounds, with a few metals thrown in for spice. Even the air you breathe, no matter how pure, consists of chemicals. There is no excuse for the sloppy nomenclature which has taken hold in areas within the health food community. If you have corporal reality, you can't avoid chemicals.
* There are others who will draw the line between what they consider "natural" compounds and the synthetic; note that in many cases the label "natural" affixed to a label on a foodstuff may mean very little in the legal sense. In most cases, there is no difference in the chemical constituents of a "natural" compound compared to its synthetic counterpart. Occasionally, the activity of the one is slightly different than the activity of the other, due perhaps to variant forms or isomers of the substance in question, or perhaps to other constituents present in the herb which may be necessary for optimal effect, but which are not created along with the synthesized version. This does NOT mean that the naturally-growing substance is ALWAYS better (or worse!) than the synthetic.
* Organically grown herbs usually lack significant traces of pesticides (since traces of pesticides have been found in Arctic ice, where they've never been applied, this mention of &significant& is noteworthy.) Recent reports have indicated that thourough washing does not remove all traces of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides used in the agricultural growing process. Some herbs are treated to more pesticides than others in the food industry.
* Herbs found in the supermarket are nowadays often irradiated to retard spoilage, and whether or not one thinks irradiation of foodstuffs is harmful in itself, there is always that "little" matter of nuclear waste stockpiling to consider. Granted, the amount used for foodstuffs is small potatoes compared to the rest of the nuclear waste problem, but that is little reason to encourage the spread of material that we as humans have not figured out how to properly dispose of. It is for these reasons we recommend the use of organically grown herbs where possible.
* Plants raised under different growing conditions may contain markedly different amounts of the active ingredient than plants grown in other conditions and locations. For some herbs, the dose received is very important -- an excess of some constituents found in certain herbs can lead to toxic effects. It is important to remember that the compounds grown outside in the wild can be as toxic if mishandled as the ones either synthesized or extracted in laboratories. It is difficult to label either the cultivated or wild-crafted herbs with how many milligrams of a substance is contained in a specific dose. This varies wildly, depending on freshness, genetic strain, soil growing quality, weather patterns during growing season, etc. BE SENSIBLE. TAKE ALL WARNINGS SERIOUSLY. In most cases it is better, in health, to err on the side of conservatism, and it is certainly important to consult your qualified neighborhood health practitioner. You only have one body; don't play guinea pig on yourself.
* Particular health needs are not identical across individuals. Not everyone needs extra iron, for example. It is important to remember that some herbs, like synthetic medicinals, may cross-react with undesired results. They may also cross-react WITH the synthetic medicinals, and vice versa. Some herbs may promote high blood pressure, others are not recommended for diabetics. Therefore, also pay attention to contraindications and the possibility of cross-reaction.
* Be careful of just treating symptoms, without understanding the underlying conditions. Treating just a symptom is dangerous; if a symptom doesn't resolve quickly, see a medical doctor. Pain is often your body's way of telling you there's something WRONG, and if you just numb the pain, you may end up masking something serious which is best treated quickly. On the other hand there is some areas of herbology (and nutrient/diet therapy) which are intended to be used as part of a "wellness" regimen, to maintain a person's health and to decrease the chance of illness occuring.
* For the sake of completeness, I'll mention a final bias. I have seen nothing to indicate that homeopathy is anything more than an example of the placebo effect at work. If it works for you... fine. But one may save money by taking a glass of clean water, and visualizing it having healing properties, and then drinking it. Most homeopathic preparations are lucky if they contain more than a molecule or two of the indicated substance, if that much. This, homeopaths contend, is the point: that energies are set up in the water which are beneficial to the user. In which case, visualizing the same should lead to the same, but cheaper, effects. But don't rely on it.
* Scientific material from professional journals has largely been culled from the abstracts on Medline. We've attempted to reference most of the information contained in these pages to the best of our ability. We are well aware that some information may have been missed, and that the nature of many uses remains speculative.
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