Suppose you’ve suffered from migraine headaches most of your life. You’ve been to many physicians and spent a small fortune on prescription medications like Imitrex, Maxalt, and the other “triptan-class” formulations that work to relieve migraines by constricting blood vessels in the brain and relieve swollen vessels that cause the headache. Either none of the medications work for you, or else their side effects make them just as unpleasant as having a headache. So what do you do now?
After consulting your physician, perhaps it is time you consider trying a natural remedy. This is a form of alternative medicine, or unconventional medicine, which is outside the “mainstream” of Western health care. Natural remedies have been practiced in ancient civilizations in the Orient for thousands of years. Asian healers today still collect plants, herbs, roots, bark, minerals, and other naturally-occurring substances to relieve pain, relieve symptoms of diseases, to prevent illness and even cure many ailments. In addition to herbal medicine, alternative medicine also includes acupuncture, acupressure, homeopathy, hypnotherapy and biofeedback.
Are Natural Remedies Safe?
This depends on the natural product used, and the skill of the practitioner that prepares or administers it. Natural Remedies involving herbal substances are not regulated by the FDA, and practitioners of the art are not licensed or held to specific standards of practice. Most practitioners learn their craft by demonstration, word of mouth, and well-researched books on the substances.
According to the FDA, natural herbal remedies should never be used to self-treat serious diseases and conditions, especially if the symptoms continue over time. Nor should they be used to treat children, by pregnant or nursing mothers, or with pets. It’s imperative that you inform your physician if you’re using an herbal natural remedy because they may negatively interact with prescription medications and laboratory tests. If you develop unusual side effects while using a natural remedy, stop taking it and call your physician.
All herbal natural remedies should be purchased from reputable, well-known sources. Similarly, acupuncture should be provided by a legitimate expert who can prove his or her success through personal and professional references from actual customers. When you’re using an herbal substance, always ask what it contains and how the ingredients work. Be especially careful with tinctures, as they contain alcohol and so people who have chemical dependency problems should not use tinctures.
Self-treating with natural remedies is not something you should attempt on your own unless you’ve thoroughly done your homework and know what you’re doing. Many reputable online companies provide consultation and instruction about how to safely use their products. They also send instruction sheets when they send you your products. Since many herbs, plants and berries are deadly when consumed by humans, you might want to pick up a book or two on herbal medicine and natural remedies. For example, biofeedback probes are ineffective if not placed properly and acupuncture shouldn’t be overtly painful. If you have unpleasant side effects from any of these forms of alternative medicine, something is wrong.