Nature’s herbs are not all the same. Indeed there are different kinds of herbs. While the benefits of medicinal herbs are well known, not all herbs are safe to use all the time. Some medicinal herbs are indeed medicine and have been used as such throughout history. After all, many of the pharmaceutical drugs we use today started out as herbal remedies.
Herbal nutrition in pregnancy is a great way to prepare for natural childbirth. But some herbal education is in order as some herbs are too potent to use during pregnancy.
There are four categories of herbs:
Different Kinds Of Herbs: The Herbs vs Medications Debate
Remember, herbs have been used for hundreds – if not thousands – of years with an excellent track record for safety – unlike pharmaceutical drugs which to be qualified as such must be toxic and able to kill.
Let’s put some perspective to the drug versus herb debate.
Death or harm from herbal remedies are very few and most if not all were from misuse. Here are some statistics:
According to the FDA, between 1993 and 1998, federal, state and local agencies reported a total of 184 deaths, most of which were associated with the weight-loss formulas containing Ephedra. Most, if not all, of those deaths occurred because people felt if a little worked then a lot must work better.
So 184 deaths in a five year gap that’s an average of 37 deaths per year – and while all deaths are tragic – that number cannot even be compared to the deaths due to pharmaceutical drugs. Yet Ephedra is off the market…gone!
The same FDA acknowledges over 27,785 deaths due to ONE drug: Vioxx. Yet this same drug was still labeled “safe for sale“. So 184 death deaths …bye-bye herb. Over 27,000 deaths…safe.
Last but not least, it is estimated (on the conservative side) that properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs kill 106,000 persons each year. This is equivalent to 255 747 airplanes crashing per year!
As for us, we’ll keep taking herbs, thank you very much.
Different Kinds of Herbs: Nourishing Herbs
Nourishing plants are the safest of herbal medicine – even when used excessively – since their side effects are quite rare if not nil. They are the plants that you will deal with the most during your pregnancy if you choose to use them. And we think that after reading the benefits of these medicinal herbs, you will want to.
They are called nourishing because they provide vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, proteins, phytoestrogens (plant estrogen) and phytosterols (plant sterols or hormones), starches, simple and complex sugars, bioflavonoids, carotenes, some glyconutrients, and essential fatty acids (EFAs).
They can be taken in any quantity for any period of time, even when you are using other plant remedies.
They are gentle, powerful in their nutritive effects and a great friend of the pregnant and lactating woman.
Examples of Nourishing Herbs
Different Kinds of Herbs: Tonifying Herbs
Tonifying plants are considered safe when used in moderation. Their effects are more beneficial when used for extended periods of time – for decades if desired – but not daily. For example, one week on and then one week off.
Their herbal extract (tinctures) are considered safe to use with nourishing plants but they may produce unexpected results if combined with pharmaceutical drugs. However, when in a water base (tea), they are considered safe even when used with prescription drugs.
They act slowly in the body and have a cumulative, rather than immediate effect. Any side effects – even though uncommon – is usually from overuse and/or misuse.
Examples of Tonifying Herbs
Different Kinds of Herbs: Stimulating and Sedating Herbs
Stimulating and sedating plants do contain substances that could cause strong physical reactions. Be aware, they could lead to dependency if used long-term. Therefore, dose and duration of use should be carefully watched.
They can – and will - compromise your health if used regularly without any caution.
A moderate to large dose, taken infrequently will produce better results than a small dose taken over a longer period. They are unlikely to produce any side effects if used in water. However, if used in alcohol side effects are frequent. They are usually not safe to take with prescription drugs.
Examples of Stimulating and Sedating Herbs
Different Kinds of Herbs: Potentially Toxic Herbs
Potentially toxic plants always contain large quantities of substances that are toxic. They may even cause death if used improperly. For safety sake use these plants as infrequently as possible and for the shortest possible time. For obvious reasons, do not use them while pregnant or lactating.
It is not generally considered safe to use such plants with prescription drugs, other potentially toxic or stimulating and sedating herbal remedies. They are usually extracted in alcohol and used in minute doses: 1-3 drops.
Note on Different Kinds of Herbs:
Homeopathic practitioners use many potentially toxic plants. However, they are used in such dilute doses that death is impossible. Moreover, at such dilute potencies, they are safe and make wonderful healing agents.
Examples of Potentially Toxic Herbs