Safe Is Herbal Medicine

"All herbs are safe; it is okay that I am on medicine from my doctor and still take these supplements."

These are statements that one may hear if they question the safety of herbs or herbal therapy. However, all herbs and herbal therapies may not be completely safe for everyone. So, before someone delves into those theories, perhaps it is best to understand what herbal medicine is.

So, What Is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine is not just going to the pantry and shaking out some oregano and declaring you cured. Actually, it is based on ancient forms of healing. Our ancestors used what was found out in nature to heal and to prevent ailments. Native Americans truly believed and still believe that all we need in life, Mother Earth will provide; meaning, there is no need to take synthetic pills to cure. However, it is interesting that some synthetic drugs have been based on aspects of nature.

Herbal Examples

Not all herbs are created equally. Some herbs are not for human consumption. At least not the way they are presented in nature. Perhaps some of these have hidden properties, but they have not been discovered yet. It may be that they are only to be combined with certain properties to make them safe. That is one of the funny things about nature; you must never underestimate it and the powers that have yet to be uncovered. Some herbs are merely for spicing up that stew or to make your house smell better. However, some may truly have medicinal properties. A few examples of these herbs would be:

Garlic - Garlic has been used in many Italian dishes, but it has shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

Peppermint - Not only useful as a breath freshener but it also helps reduce nausea and flatulence.

Ginger root - Also helps with nausea, especially during morning sickness

Oats & Oat Straw - These wonder herbs are full of calcium and magnesium so they help relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skin

Safety Concerns

Once upon a time, there was a thought that it was time to come up with standards for practical medicine and drugs. This was instilled to protect the general public from fraudulent drugs and doctors and hopefully protect them from further illness or even worse, death. It was not uncommon for a traveling "doctor" to come rolling into town with the new elixir that would cure everything from baldness to the intestinal disorder. However, many were later found to be nothing more than watered-down whiskey or a combination of herbs and extracts. These standards are met during the production of modern medical medicines, but are different when it comes to herbal medicines.

The standardization of dosage and purity is not mandated in the United States. It is remarkable that products made with herbs to the same specifications may still be different because of the result of biochemical variations in the plant. Plants have chemical defense mechanisms against predators that may have lethal effects in humans. A couple of examples would be poison hemlock and nightshade; this is why these herbs are not available on the market. A couple of other cases of negative herb use include liver failure due to black cohosh and chronic licorice ingestion, which has led to major potassium depletion.

Humans Could Be The Ones To Blame For

Once again, this could be a case that we are our own worst enemy. Some humans tend to jump into things without doing the research beforehand, and there are cases with herbal medicine that seem to follow suit. Some patients will be taking medicine prescribed by their doctor that will lower blood pressure but then read an article that claims that a certain herb has been proven to do the same. They think it would be great to double up with both before consulting their doctor or herbalist and ingest both. This can result in dangerously low blood pressure, which can be just as harmful as high blood pressure. It is known that some herbs and certain fruits interrupt with the cytochrome, which is vital in drug metabolism.

There are arguments on both sides of this issue. Herbal medicine seems to become more and more popular with not only followers of alternative medicine but also with those who want to enhance their present lifestyle. Herbal medicine continues to prove safe and effective under proper use, and could be even more so if patients can bridge the gap between their modern medical practitioner and their desire to understand and hopefully benefit from herbal medicine.

I am Dr. Robertino Bedenian and I have several websites dealing with nutrition, pilates, baby care and pregnancy. I do publish articles on different genres of health, back pain and other non-medical topics.

Did you find those safety tips useful? You can learn more about things you should really know about natural herb remedies in order to have a more comprehensive understanding here.

Herbal Medicine - Minty Freshness Isn't Just for Your Breath

Did you know that Chinese herbal medicine far predates acupuncture techniques for eliciting change in the body? Fortunately, Chinese herbal medicine isn't just weird sounding and smelling substances. In fact, many Chinese herbal medicines might be hiding in your kitchen or garden and since a vast majority of Chinese herbal medicines are plant based, chances are that you have come in contact with many that play important roles in herbal medicine. Sometimes they may be in a form we aren't used to, like asparagus tubers, gardenia fruits and apricot seeds, but they are still related to the plant we know and love.

One oft used herb is Bo He, better known as Field Mint. Bo He is an herb that is cooling in temperature but also has a pungent and aromatic nature to it. It is said to travel to the Lung and Liver meridians. The Lungs are involved in the immune system and the body's defense against external pathogens. The Liver is largely responsible for the smooth flow of Qi through the body.

Based on its actions on the Lungs, Field Mint is used in Chinese medicine to release the Exterior and disperse Wind-Heat. What is meant by this is that can be used to combat colds and flu that have a fever, sore throat, cough with yellow sputum, and headache component to them. Chinese medicine holds that the immune system resides superficially in the exterior layers of the skin so by opening these layers, an invading pathogen can be forced out easier. In addition, Field Mint is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine to decrease the severity of colds. Peppermint oil has also been shown to have anti-microbial and anti-viral capabilities in research studies.

Bo He also has a role in promoting the free flow of Qi through the body and thus Soothes the Liver Qi. To Soothe in Chinese medicine means to "Promote the Free Flow" so Field Mint can help treat conditions of stuck or constrained Liver Qi like chest pressure, depression or irritability, and gynecological complaints like painful menstruation. Considering the pungent scent of mint and the active component, menthol, it is easy to see how it can relieve chest tightness or pressure. But what about menstrual complaints? In a 2012 study published in the Journal of American Science, a survey of rural adolescent girls in Egypt struggling with menstrual pain showed that peppermint was the second most commonly used herbal remedy behind fenugreek seed, which is also a Chinese herbal remedy called Hu Lu Ba. The menthol in mint is known to have an anti-spasmodic action on the muscles of the digestive tract that can cause menstrual cramping. In addition to cramping, Bo He has a positive effect on PMS symptoms, scanty periods, or heavy menstrual bleeding as well.

So next time you are drinking a nice cup of tea to help combat a cold or to relax and warm your belly when you are stuck at home with abdominal discomfort, pop a piece of mint or two into your mug and enjoy the after effects. Why do you think those twins in the gum commercials looked so happy after all?

Chris Lehmann is a nationally board licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist practicing in Boston, MA. His acupuncture practice, Eastern Sun Acupuncture, seeks to provide the safest, most effective and comprehensive acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy to Boston and surrounding communities. More information can be found at the website, He also publishes blog posts, maintains an active Facebook fan page and tweets acupuncture related news as @easternsunacu. To learn more about Eastern Sun Acupuncture or to book an appointment, visit today.

Benefits of Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine for Optimal Health

Increasingly, people are considering natural and herbal medicinal approaches as a complementary or primary course of health management. Traditional medical doctors knowledgeable of natural holistic health treatments are now accepting, even embracing, naturopathy as a means of treating many conditions. In fact, natural alternative medicine is rooted in scientific research which still seems to surprise some.

What is Naturopathic Medicine and is it for You?

The primary premise of naturopathic medicine is that the body possesses the ability to heal itself. The role of a naturopathic doctor, and the course of recommended treatment, is focused on stimulating the body's natural abilities to recover leveraging non-invasive means.

Is naturopathic medicine for you? Naturopath approaches can benefit anyone as they are effective for treatment of chronic conditions, acute ailments, and perhaps most importantly - an integral part of preventative health management. Yes, not only can a naturopathic approach (often involving herbal medicinal treatment) reverse and/or slow the progression of chronic disease and illness, it is a vital ingredient for preventing disease development.

Selecting a Naturopathic Doctor for Optimal Health Benefits

Before selecting a naturopathic doctor it is important to understand the principles by which they practice:

    * Of course, to "Do No Harm" and act ethically in their approach.
    * To work with and leverage the Healing Power of Nature.
    * To establish root causes of disease and formulate treatment accordingly.
    * To seek to heal the "whole" body, this requires individualized treatment.
    * To teach healthy living practices, provide lifestyle recommendations and focus on preventative health measures.

Importantly, selecting a naturopathic doctor is just like selecting a conventional medical doctor, or any important service provider. You will want to research them - their credentials, their practice history and experience; and seek out any word of mouth references from people who have actually visited the naturopath. Ultimately, selecting a naturopathic doctor comes down to your actually meeting them. Typically, initial consultations are no or low cost. This is time and effort well invested. Would you take hugely important advice on your health and wellness from someone you weren't comfortable with and "not so sure about"?

Alternative Herbal Medicine and Your Optimal Health

Phytotherapy, medical herbalism, botanical matter what the term herbal medicine is focused on both disease prevention and treatments of ailments. The benefits of going the alternative route to achieve optimal health include:

    * Derived from herbs with naturally occurring medicinal properties.
    * Synthetic free
    * No-low incidence of side effects
    * Naturally promotes detoxification
    * Highly effective at preventing and treating root cause conditions, such as high blood pressure and obesity, which are responsible for an exponentially large number of health problems that arise from these conditions.

If you are considering a switch to alternative medicinal approaches, you are on the path to discovering naturally improved health. Do research diligently when selecting a naturopathic doctor to be sure they are right for you. With a commitment to improved health and the right treatment approach, alternative medicine can help you achieve and maintain optimum health.

Elemental Therapies is a whole health clinic specializing in alternative medicine and natural health treatments. Our whole health spa offers naturopath and herbal treatment services; colon cleansing; ion foot bath detox; and FIR infrared sauna therapy.

Health IT in Medical School

Medical Students

We have a new wave of medical students that are coming out of medical school in this new generation of technology, social media, and healthcare innovations brought on from departments from hospitals such as Kaiser Permanente. Students now acknowledge that they need access to smartphones, tablets, and any devices that helps them integrate into an advanced society where textbooks are even read on electronic devices. It keeps those already practicing older physicians on their toes as they may feel like they are being weaved out. The Kaiser innovation team are continually improving their health IT each and everyday, I am sure that we are poised to see a huge jump in technological health devices to improve healthcare for patients and online doctor alike.

And as students are being educated through devices, I am sure the implementation of such devices to practice medicine through teleHealth will be a necessity as students will not be educated on the "older" way of practicing. Newly board certified and licensed graduate medical students will be using technology to communicate with their patients via Facebook, Twitter, etc. The influx of positions to employ such an online doctor will increase exponentially in the upcoming years with telemedicine poised to be well-received with benefits and government funding. Using devices to monitor their vital signs, using iPads and other tablets that can generate a front facing camera consultation to watch over patients, or simply using a cellular devices to speak and see with a patient at home.

Two Way Real-Time consultation is making a huge step in the world of medicine with even physician professors broadcasting lectures and PowerPoints through Podcasts and Live Stream Sites. Current board certified students are giving advices over the phone for elders who can't make it to the office. It also gives the patients the comfortability of being at home. Home is where most patient's sanctuary remain and if one can be diagnosed in their sanctuary, I'm pretty sure their healthcare would improve. Of course, there remains the security of information using already made applications like Skype and so there have been services where they have employed their own developers to develop a private video application with encryption to protect the patients' confidentiality.

TeleHealth implementation in medical schools in Arizona and Chicago have been pushing for students to receive or buy iPads because companies are moving towards digital images of the human anatomy and scrubbing through slides on a touchpad. It has been much easier on the school with it saving cost, preserving the environment and adapt to a consumer lifestyle. So when graduating, they will be able to connect with their patient who are probably now technologically literate.

In my foreseeable future, more hospitals will need to hire doctors that are well-trained with technology and trained with these new health devices that can monitor a patient's vital signs via broadband and WiFi. The ability to follow-up with patients outside of the hospital no matter whether either are will make these future medical students a much needed prospect. A medical school doesn't have to stand by the old generation of medicine when government funding and private funding are increasing the use of online doctor with telemedicine/telehealth to lessen the cost of running hospitals and free clinics.

Tara Jones - Medical Student 2014
"Technology and Health - Advancement in Medicine Practices"

Traditional Chinese Medicine Making Turning Heads in Western World

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a practice that has been garnering increased attention from many members of the Western medical community. With acupuncture and acupressure clinics springing up all over the United States, more Western patients are using TCM techniques for any number of ailments and conditions ranging from migraine headache relief to TMJ treatment (temporomandibular, jaw). This increased interest is*causing acupuncture schools to open their doors to both educate and treat students and patients in the United States.

TCM is really an umbrella term for several practices and modes of treatment that have been thriving in Eastern countries for many centuries. Popular practices include acupressure, Chinese Herbology, several forms of exercise therapy, and the ever popular acupuncture therapy. The treatments focus on combining healthy modes of bodily functions (correct breathing, sleeping, digestion, etc.) with an emphasis on cosmological balance to find underlying disharmony in the patient's health. Although rejected as an "alternative medicine" in the Western medical world, TCM is the most commonly practiced and researched medical ideology in Eastern countries who continue to update and research the practices with regards to modern Western medical advances.

Continuing in the advances of the modern TCM community, Dr. Shi Xue-Min has been advancing acupuncture technique and treatment for years. As a distinguished scholar and researcher in the field of TCM, Dr. Shi has developed an acupuncture technique called Xing Nao Kai Qiao (XNKQ) to, very successfully, treat stroke patients. Dr. Shi succeeded in blending aspects of Eastern cosmology, surgically precise acupuncture technique, and biomedical study to create an acupuncture regimen with the ability to increase flow of bodily fluids and treat stroke. Dr. Shi's synthesis of ideologies with respect to tradition is emblematic of the modern TCM community in its persistence in study and research. Currently, Dr. Shi's research has been built upon to include acupuncture effects at the DNA level, paving the way for TCM advancement for years to come.

Coupled with acupuncture, Chinese Herbology is being increasingly utilized as a supplemental treatment to other forms of TCM. With a catalogue of over 6,000 substances (600 of which are in common use), Chinese Herbology uses tastes and temperatures to further the work of acupressure and acupuncture in creating healthy bodily harmonies for the patient.

Many Chinese Medicine and acupuncture schools are beginning to take Dr. Shi's approach to TCM. Opening their doors for free initial visits and consultations, these schools are attempting to bring TCM to the Western world with a focus on creativity, skill at diagnosis, and healing. TCM is becoming a modern combination of anatomy, philosophy, and medicine, with special regards to culture, and that is where TCM thrives. Contact your nearest acupressure clinic or acupuncture school to schedule a consultation.

Conventional Or Alternative Medicine

With all due respect there is no better than conventional medicine when it comes to emergency, surgery and trauma. For everything else, alternative or natural medicine is far more effective - particularly for chronic illness which conventional medicine is completely unable to treat or cure.

For more than 10.000 years natural therapies being used, while conventional medicine is but 100 years old.

They deserve the recognition people have given them as they have healing modalities and benefits proven by credible reviewed research.

Modern medicine actually suppresses and thwarts that healing mechanism by having unbalanced the complex human organism and its systems, particularly the immune system.

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics by professional practitioners has increased substantially over years.

As the liberal use of drugs increases at the same time ignoring its importance of diet, exercise, supplementation and lifestyle change. This could solve many small health issues without drugs or medication.

Yet this type of treatment of which would have no consequences of any side effects is most of the time ignored and seldom addressed by medical professions or doctors.

The world health organization estimates that some 70 per cent of the world's population relies on alternative medicine to treat, prevent and cure diseases. In some parts of the western world we have closed - minded medical organizations, they damage and bring in to dispute the entire natural health profession.

Do we have it completely wrong?

Shouldn't we have dedicated courses in universities and medical - schools offering elective courses in alternative and complementary medicines and include it in required courses?

It should have been due to the interest, enthusiasm and reason of medical professions, scientists, researchers and politicians.

Understandably, when it comes to money and profits this is not easy applied. The pharmaceutical companies would lose the trillion - dollar industry it has enjoyed over decades and this is not going to happen very soon in the near future.

With conventional medicine's birth came the deliberate move by the medical profession to discredit what became labelled "ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE".

Unfortunately this is the public's disillusionment with modern medicine and its inability to treat many diseases, as well as the dreadful side - effects of any treatment offered that have increased its popularity of complementary and alternative medicine.

It is about time the medical profession starts to educate and not just medicate. Drug medicine focuses more on symptom control; it does not fix the core problem where the illness is coming from at the first place.

Mother nature can do it better! The power of nature was fixing her creatures long before man decided he could do it better. We also must acknowledge that mother nature is by far better at healing than doctors and their medication.

These alternative therapies are working to treat the entire person, recognizing and stimulating the body's system to heal the first cause of illness.

There are many natural discoveries that have the power to help heal every illness known to humankind. It is a matter of taking control of your own health, because no one else will do it for you.

Cancer is the second biggest killer in America, and many other western world countries. According to the China Study, rural Chinese women have five times less risk of dying from breast cancer than their American and western world counterparts. As documented that Chinese men and women escape dreaded diseases that kill over 1 million Americans and plus many more of the western world.

What do they know that we don't?

Traditional medicines have succeeded over thousands of years, and now modern science can prove that many diseases western medicine has failed to treat and could be cured by natural ways through the power of nature.

For example... heart disease is the #1 killer in America, claiming 700,000-plus lives a year. Yet, according to the China study and a survey taken, over a three - year period not one person died under the age of 64 of heart disease out of 500, 000 men and woman living in two different parts of China.

Why is it, when it comes to sickness and disease that the Chinese in many cases have less risk and a greater healing success rate without depending on prescription drugs than the western world with conventional medicine?

By giving the body the right nutrition, vitamins, minerals etc. the body is capable of repairing itself, not only that, it will defend itself against sickness.

Remember it's NEVER too late to improve your health. The first three steps: DIET, LIFESTYLE and SUPPLEMENTATION!

Josef Bichler's point of view! When health is an issue education is the most important way to gain control, remember knowledge equals power. To take control of your health is not as hard as some people think it is, it is a matter of making the right choices.

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Medical Tests Can Be Hazardous to Your Health and Wealth

There are more than 7,500 parts in the human body; it sometimes seems there are drugs and tests for every one of them.

A recent article in The Washington Post identified 45 common tests that nine different medical groups have declared are either unnecessary or overdone, including colonoscopies. In addition to the 45 testing procedures, the seven most common of which will be identified momentarily, it is worth noting that spending on medicines in the U.S. grew in 2011 to $320 billion. (See Brian Vastag, Doctors Groups Call for End to Unnecessary Procedures, 04/04/2012.)

How does a nation of 313,303,160 (according to the U.S. Census Bureau) manage to function in such a drugged condition? It's a wonder anything gets done. (A cynic like Bill Maher, a comic like Andy Borowitz or even a wellness promoter like me might remark that this drug affliction, combined with excessive religiosity, helps explain how the Republican Party got the way it is at present.) One factor has to be that the pharmaceutical industry launched 34 new drugs last year, and spent billions promoting them.

But, enough about drug consumption - let me focus on the unnecessary testing issue. A National Academy of Sciences report estimated that 30 percent of U.S. health-care spending was inappropriate - a staggering waste of approximately $700 billion for procedures that do no good but can do harm.

At times like this, the media and others will ask, Who is to blame? It does not take genius to find fault with the key parties to this debacle, particularly patients and caregivers. However, both groups can justify somewhat why they act as they do. Patients are ill equipped to resist clever advertising; doctors are pressured to practice defensive medicine.

Better to focus on ways to remedy a dysfunctional situation.

In a report entitled Choosing Wisely released last week, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation unveiled a campaign to persuade doctors and patients to be more careful about 45 common test procedures. The Foundation did not recommend against any of the procedures, but asked for better decision- making about assessment tools that should be questioned. Joining the campaign are a dozen consumer groups.

What are the most suspicious procedures these groups want questioned more often? I'm summarize the top seven. To review all 45, see the Washington Post article referenced above.

1. Antibiotics for sinus infections - basically useless since the overwhelming majority of infections are not caused by bacteria

2. X-rays for low back pain. Such testing is appropriate only if clear indicators of a serious disease are present.

3. Stress tests done on healthy people who do not have diabetes or other indications of heart risks.

4. CT or MRI head scans as a response to an episode or two of fainting.

5. CT scans to detect appendicitis in children - less expensive ultrasound scans are as effective.

6. Colonoscopies! This is a biggie for me. I am a long-term resistor against the procedure. So far as I can tell, I'm at very low risk, so I'd rather await a non-invasive option for polyp detection that is simple and cheap. Such a DNA stool test awaits FDA approval. The Foundation, of course, is not so radical - it advises one colonoscopy per decade. (I stubbornly maintain that, for 85 to 90 percent of population, once every ten years is probably too often. What's more, a single colonoscopy might well be too many for most people.) In all other Western countries, only those at risk from other testing are offered colonoscopies through national health plans.

7. PET, CT bone scans to determine spread of early prostate and breast cancers. Low grade tumors that can be shown to be at little risk of metastasizing are not worth exposing the patient to unnecessary surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.

As promised, I favor not just less drugs and fewer medical test procedures but also more non-invasive wellness assessments. The latter would be designed to evaluate patient willingness to embrace appropriate levels of responsibility for their own lifestyle choices and actions.

I do recognize one problem with this approach, namely, that very few people are capable of doing much that is different from what they do now, given the limited ability any of us possess to will ourselves to change. Powerful memes of cultures and environments, traditions and circumstances, DNA and other genetic factors and more combine to constrain how we think and how we can act, even though most of us want to think we can choose to be different from the way we are.

For the moment, let's be more conservative about the tests we agree to undergo while considering new ways to remain well and become weller. After all, some folks may be able to change some of their ways, some of the time, with a little bit of luck and gentle guidance from doctors, wellness promoters, government, social policies and so on.

Publisher of the ARDELL WELLNESS REPORT (AWR) - a weekly electronic newsletter devoted to commentaries on current issues that affect personal and social well being from a quality of life perspective. The emphasis is on REAL wellness, which is also the topic of Don's latest book. Read about it here - - The "REAL" acronym reflects key issues embraced and advanced in Don's philosophy, namely, Reason, Exuberance, Athleticism and Liberty. Sample copy of Don's latest edition by request. If you like it, you can sign up - the price is right - free. Contact Don at