Discussing Herbs, Homeopathy, and Self-Administered Remedies
You decide that you are weary of the health care system: endless waiting, bureaucracy, and high costs. So you decide to go to a GNC or health food or vitamin store to buy some herbs for your health complaints.
The first challenge you face is to correctly diagnose your ailment. Your next decision is to select the proper herb for your problem, with the knowledge that you cannot anticipate side effects from manufacturers who do not adhere to the strict reporting standards required of producers of prescription medications. For some degree of protection, check that the label notes that the manufacturer follows the Good Manufacturing Practice so that you can have some assurance of strength and purity. Your choice then is to decide whether to use the whole herb or the standardized extract.
The label is unlikely to note interactions with other herbs or medications you take. The label may also make vague or unsubstantiated claims, such as, "May boost the immune system," or, "May increase metabolism." Even if the claims are true, the benefits may be questionable. Boosting the immune system might prevent colds but may increase histamine responses and allergic reactions. Increasing metabolism by use of herbs may speed fat burning a bit, but it may also cause jitteriness and sleeplessness.
Do your research. Do not depend solely on the advice of a salesperson whose compensation depends in part on PMs, or push money (a commission paid to the salesperon based on products sold). Therefore, the more they sell you, the more money they make.
Homeopathic preparations are another popular choice. The counter-intuitive concept of homeopathy is that the chemicals that mimic your health complaints will remedy the ailment when taken in ultra-minute doses. According to another counter-intuitive concept of homeopathy, the less chemical in the preparation, the stronger it becomes.
Homeopathic preparations are very unlikely to cause side effects, but they also lack scientific evidence of efficacy. A user of homeopathic preparations may feel better, perhaps because of a placebo effect, but the products do not alter the organic causes of disease and can delay appropriate treatment. (For example a friend of mine took homeopathic preparations to cure diabetes. You can treat diabetes but there is no cure).
Other remedies offered are found in the broad categories of essential oils, aromatherapy, and floral essences. Orange oil (used for cleaning), Vicks Vaporub, and lavender are mainstream examples of these type of products. They may relieve certain symptoms or be useful for other purposes but they are not known to cure anything.
Never use any of the these products, or any other medication, for your charges without the specific permission of the parents. Even with the parents' permission, extreme caution must be used when treating illnesses with medication. Click here to be certain you always follow proper nanny and au pair medical practices.
Tomorrow: Diet and Weight Loss Supplements