How Herbs Work
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Billie
Posted on: March 12, 1999

When you start using herbs on a regular basis, how long before you notice a difference in the way you feel or respond to the herb? I am really just getting into the research of herbs since traditional medicine leaves a lot to be desired for me .

Herbs may work slowly or quickly, depending on the condition and the treatment. Generally, herbs, as used by herbalists, are chosen to heal the underlying condition rather than just the symptom. To heal the underlying condition, herbs are used to regulate and stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms, to promote long term healing. A holistic practitioner will also look at lifestyle factors such as diet, stress, work and home environments as possible factors in the cause of illness.

In a simplified comparison with prescription drugs, antibiotics are used to kill all bacteria, while herbs are used to stimulate and/or regulate the immune system, which will then do its job eliminating offending organisms. Steroids are used to stop the inflammatory process, while herbs may be used to strengthen the inflamed areas so that they resist inflammation. Since the end result of the inflammatory process is healing, steroids do not result in long term healing.

In some acute conditions, prescription drugs are required to avoid dangerous results. For example, if a baby has an ear infection, delay in stopping the bacterial spread may lead to deafness.

Some herbs work very quickly. For example, ephedra, which should only be taken under care of a health practitioner, dilates the bronchial tubes to ease breathing in asthma.

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