Herbs – Myths and Miracles

This informative guest post about herbs is curtesy of Patrick P. Jones, DVM, a Veterinary Consultant over at Silver Lining Herbs. Many thanks for his contribution.

ThymeWe are living in The Information Age. Television, radio and the World Wide Web put astounding amounts of information at our finger tips.

Finding Real Information

The challenge for those of us with a passion to help our animal friends and clients is to sift through the information and separate the truth from the error. Misinformation or exaggeration about the “benefits” herbs or the “dangers” of modern medicines don’t help anyone.

I’ve compiled a few ideas and attitudes I often hear expressed that I think ought to be carefully considered and perhaps replaced with something more useful to our ends.

Myth #1 – Herbs are safe because they are “all natural”

Fact:  Cyanide, arsenic and asbestos are “all natural”. Natural is not necessarily safe. Herbs contain pharmacologically active substances and need to be treated with respect. Unsafe interactions between herbs and other medications (or even other herbs) can and do happen. Herbs should be used judiciously by experienced herbalists. Persons or animals taking other medications should consult professionals before combining herbs and pharmaceuticals. 

Myth #2 – Modern drugs are bad

Fact: Millions of lives have been saved and improved through modern medicine, surgery, and vaccination.  Certainly medicine, surgery and vaccines have their shortcomings and risks but there’s no reason to throw out the baby with the bath water. The thing we must remember and help our clients to understand is that they are not the only alternative and, as often than not, are not the best alternative.

Myth #3 – Modern drugs are safe because of their well established studies

Fact: If research proves anything, it proves that studies can be seriously flawed at best and corruptly manipulated at worst. How many pharmaceuticals in the last few years have been pulled from the market because of serious negative side effects? Every one of them was proven by “good research” to be “safe and effective”…Oops!

Myth #4 – Herbs are not safe because they lack good medical research

Fact: The truth is there is more and more good research is being done on herbs. Many herbs and been studied and found to contain pharmacologically active agents that really do account for their purported medicinal properties. More importantly, herbs have been used for hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of years. That constitutes a fairly large mountain of evidence that, used correctly, herbs are generally very safe. 

Myth #5 – If I take herbs they’ll heal me

Fact: Herbs don’t heal anything. Rather, they provide the body with the nutrients and pharmacological agents it needs to heal itself. To maximize the healing power of the body the diet, lifestyle and environment must also be addressed. To the degree that we recognize this we will be able to have a positive impact on the health of our clients, their pets and ourselves. To the degree that we ignore this fact we will waste a lot of people’s money on products that can’t help them. 

Using Good Judgement

So, there are just a few. A wise man once said “It’s good to have an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.” We would do well to carefully ponder and evaluate all the information we receive and share. A little skepticism can be a healthy thing but, when we find real truth we need to embrace it. One of history’s greatest skeptics, Saul of Tarsus (who was willing to completely change his mind and attitudes when faced with the truth) said it best; Prove all things. Hold fast that which is good!

Thanks again to Patrick P. Jones, DVM for his insight into using medicinal herbs. You can learn more about him and herbs for equines at www.silverliningherbs.com.