Pharmaceuticals have changed the face of healthcare in the last century, saving millions of lives and keeping people fitter and healthier for longer. You wouldn’t want to be without the medicines that keep your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes, or have to endure painful procedures without an anesthetic; not to mention vaccines that have wiped out diseases like smallpox.
There’s no doubt that modern drugs are something we need and rely on, but for simple self-care, many over-the-counter medicines are simply not as effective as the traditional home remedies people have been using for centuries.
Before modern drugs were commonplace, people relied upon the use of herbal remedies that had been handed down from generation to generation. These concoctions were developed and refined over centuries to help relieve symptoms of illness, and in fact, many drugs we still use today are based upon this ancient wisdom. For example, aspirin, a painkiller we think of as being a staple of modern pharmacology, was originally derived from willow bark.
In many cases, natural remedies were based on superstitions and a lack of knowledge of how the body works. Until bacteria and viruses could be observed under the microscope, medics believed that the body consisted of “humors”, blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, which were bodily fluids that caused illness when they became imbalanced. Now, we know this isn’t the case and we have a far better understanding of disease processes, so following a medieval recipe to rebalance your yellow bile is unlikely to be very effective!
Reputable herbalists who practice today have a good understanding of which remedies have genuinely beneficial effects, and which are best left to history. They use high-quality ingredients and base their medicines on clinical evidence, where possible, that has shown the treatments work and highlights any possible side effects or contraindications.
For example, St. John’s Wort is known to help ease the symptoms of mild depression and has undergone clinical trials that prove it can be beneficial. It’s also known that this medicine shouldn’t be taken with certain other medications, and this will be clearly highlighted in herbal literature and on the pill bottles. Therefore, you can be reassured that using herbal remedies from a qualified herbalist will be just as safe as using conventional medicines from your doctor.
It’s not just herbs and plants that can provide an alternative to modern drugs. There are many other ways in which you can treat yourself at home without the need for conventional medications. For example, there are numerous home remedies for sore throat based on the use of natural products like honey, lemon, and peppermint. However, you can also help yourself by sucking on ice or sipping cold drinks that numb the pain, and drink nutritious soups that give you health-boosting nutrients in a form that’s easier to swallow when you have a very bad throat.
For colds and coughs in general, home treatment will see you on the road to recovery just as swiftly as using conventional medicines. Viruses can’t be cured with antibiotics, and the most effective treatment for coughs and colds is to rest, drink plenty of clear fluids, and help your body heal itself.
Using herbal and home remedies safely
Just like modern medicines, herbal remedies can contain some powerful substances, and just because they are natural doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be harmful if misused. You should always follow the instructions carefully on herbal preparations and stick to the recipe if you’re making your own home treatments.
You should also be sensible about getting help from your pharmacist or doctor if your symptoms aren’t improving, or if you develop symptoms that could indicate a secondary infection or more serious condition. For instance, if you’ve been coughing due to a nasty cold, that’s to be expected as your body is trying to rid itself of the phlegm in your lungs. However, if a cough gets worse, or you see blood when you cough up the phlegm, that could be a sign that your cough is being caused by a secondary bacterial infection. This type of infection might need to be treated with antibiotics.
There’s a place for both conventional and traditional medicines and treatments. The best results are usually obtained when you use each one at the time when they are likely to be most effective. It’s nice to feel that you’re using natural products rather than lots of artificial drug compounds, but remember that each has a role to play in maintaining your wellbeing.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.