It is vital that people understand that all herbs are plant-derived drugs, without exception. While there are some that are – in the correct dose, with the correct processing, and the correct usage – very beneficial (especially in hormonal balances), as with all drugs, daily, prolonged use will eventually result in one or more of the following:
For this reason, under no circumstances do herbs belong in daily, prolonged supplementation! Just because things are "natural" doesn't mean that they are natural to the body or that they are good, safe or any better than the synthetic versions. This is contrary to a lot of companies' marketing and what a number of people will attempt to tell you.
The negative effects may take days, weeks, months and, sometimes, even years. A lot depends on the individual body, the quantity taken, a person's diet, other supplements being used, quality of the ingredients ingested, and the specific herb used. The one thing that is certain is that every single drug in existence – whether "natural" or synthetic – will eventually cause one or more of the above four problems if they are overused, misused, or abused – and that includes daily use for more than a few days or weeks.
The use of some herbs can even prove to be life-threatening. For example, a person taking a regular dose of ginko biloba cannot under go certain major surgeries because they could bleed to death. There are some herbal ingredients, as well as heavy metals (often found in some minerals), that do not have an immediate effect. They gradually build up in the liver and kidneys until those organs stop working.
Other herbs – some of which have been marketed as being beneficial – can have severely damaging effects on the body that, though not life-threatening, can cause significant problems and reduce the quality of life when misused, overused or abused. For instance, yucca, promoted as being great for relieving pain and inflammation, contains steroid saponins, chemicals that are related to the steroids, and can cause joint degeneration with daily, prolonged use.
Since plants can't fight off insects or animals that want to eat them, they contain chemicals that cause changes in the way the predator's body works. These chemicals do many different things. Some act like the animal's own hormones (like steroids) and many actually attack the body's immune system. Depending on the specific plant, the amount eaten, and the size and type of animal or person, ingestion of herbs and their chemicals can cause death, abortions, seizures, or an altered activity of the nervous system. Herbs can also be used as antibiotics and anti-fungals, because they can also kill bacteria and fungus.
Furthermore, many "herbs" are inconsistently grown, irresponsibly harvested, or too quickly processed. A manufacturer can reduce production costs of ingredients (whether vitamin, mineral, nutrient, or herbal), use exactly the same name and "claim" for purity, yet produce something that is very different in potency and bioavailability. Nutrition and health products are a tricky industry, and, although it appears that nearly any company can "jump in", not all companies have truly effective products. And remember this. Without at least two years of safety studies involving the ingredients specifically used in a company's product – done by some college or university somewhere in the world that included biopsies of the liver, kidneys, and heart of a test animal (a monogastric mammal, such as a rat) – that company obviously doesn't know what damage their product can do with daily prolonged use. It is vital that safe and ethical studies were done, or your body could be the next "guinea pig".
There are simply too many factors to make assumptions about herbs, too many variables to believe that daily prolonged use is safe. So, when using products containing herbs:
Please don't misunderstand. There are some good and beneficial herbs, but they are ALL PLANT-DERIVED DRUGS and should not be used each and every day for a prolonged period of time.
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