Common Herbal Myths
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
"I use pharmaceuticals so I can't use herbs"
I often see people who are hesitant to try herbs because they also take pharmaceutical medications. While it is very important to not mix incompatible herbs and medications, it is absolutely possible to take herbs with medications. A qualified herbalist can help you avoid any contraindications.
"Herbal Medicine is Feeling & Intuition Based"
On the contrary, herbal medicine is based on thousands of years of accumulated information. Every system of healing I have learned (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Western Herbalism) is soundly based on a diagnostic system of logic. Every symptom and sign, both from interrogation and observation, is used as a clue in understanding what the body is going through and what herbs might be appropriate.
"Allopathic (Modern, Western) Medicine is Harmful & Unsafe"
Sometimes I encounter people who have very strong views one way or the other about Western medicine vs. Holistic medicine. Ideally, these two systems of healing are not at odds with each other, but seen as different, powerful tools to be used when most applicable. For example, I do not think it is a worthwhile goal to never see an allopathic doctor. There are some preventative and diagnostic tools (blood work, cancer screenings, emergency care, etc.) that are invaluable and save lives. Surgery can be a lifesaving tool. Pharmaceuticals can be a lifesaving tool. I am glad and lucky to have Western medicine at my disposal when I need it!
“Traditional Medicines are Outdated and Ineffective”
Sometimes I see the flip side of this too: holistic medicine is outdated and ineffective. I have personally excused myself from these conversations because it's not my desire to convince anyone who doesn't want to see herbs or food as medicine otherwise. I have found immense benefit from herbs, foods, and supplements and merely want to extend that opportunity to others who are interested and can see their benefit.
Each system of healing has it's limitations and shortcomings, it's strengths and weaknesses. In the best case scenario, both can be used harmoniously to benefit our health and wellbeing.
"I Can Just Do This Myself Without an Herbalist"
Yes you could! Most of the herbs in my apothecary you could buy at a holistic store, in a premixed formula, or even online at a reputable Chinese or Ayurvedic herbal dispensary. The beauty of herbs is they are readily and still legally available to the public thanks to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). But just because they are not exclusive to those with a prescription or license, doesn't mean it's easy to navigate and treat yourself. I've met a fair share of people who have spent an exhaustive amount of time on the internet trying to find the right herbs for them.
The beauty of seeing an herbalist is they can help you incorporate the right herbs into your life. There are a lot of them and in many different combinations. It helps to have a trained eye to discern the right herb for your goals for your unique body and situation. I went through the first one and a half years of herb school just learning diagnostics. Before studying any herbs we had to understand how to recognize a pattern of imbalance in a person before ever learning what herbs to give them. Herbalism isn't an exclusive knowledge, you could know everything I do. The only difference is the commitment of time.
It is fun and rewarding to learn about herbs by incorporating them into your life. At the heart of my herbal practice is education. Ideally, everyone would have the tools to handle season to season common ailments or complaints with their own knowledge of herbs, diet and lifestyle, but sometimes, in times of hardship or ill health, it's not as fun to try and do it yourself. A helping hand may be needed. These times are less about experimenting and more about finding answers to unravel tangled layers of unpleasant symptoms. I am happy to unravel them with you should you need an herbal ally.