Treatment with herbs

  1. I personally believe in using herbs to treat many illnesses and I use them daily. I have found them to increase the quality of my life, even to the point of better stress management. I am interested in how other nurses feel about herbs. Do you use or recommend them? If so, which ones.
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    About duckie

    Joined: Jan '04; Posts: 0
    BSCN peds/nicu


  3. by   ktwlpn
    Originally posted by Duckie:
    I personally believe in using herbs to treat many illnesses and I use them daily. I have found them to increase the quality of my life, even to the point of better stress management. I am interested in how other nurses feel about herbs. Do you use or recommend them? If so, which ones.
    I think the real danger is not taking into consideration the fact that herbs are chemicals too-can interact unfavorably with prescription meds...If the consumer is educated this should not be a problem...I saw a post on an AOL board a few months ago asking for advice from a person on dialysis-looking for herbs to take the place of their treatments...I have seen cancer patients spend thousands of dollars---sad...

  4. by   duckie
    Anyone taking herbs should always inform their doctor and never use them in place of medications that are recommended by the MD. My doctor knows what I take and is in agreement with them. Herbs can provide many benefits and I do wish they were regulated and that more MD's knew of their benefits. Maybe in time.
  5. by   Doc
    Duckie, I have used certain herbs myself. They have been known to work for thousands of years. Many of our current medications are based on natural therapies: penicillin, digoxin and aspirin to name only a few. Several recent studies have been conducted on the efficacy of certain herbs in treating specific complaints. St Johns Wort is one of the most notable, containing two therapeutic compunds, hypericum and hyperforin. Hypericum has been clinically proven to be effective for moderate-severe depression. Hyperforin was found in two studies to be effective against certain gram-negative strains of bacteria, particularly MRSA. Activities are under way to produce an antibiotic drug containing hyperforin for use against the new vancomycin-resistant strains of MRSA. St Johns Wort is also reputed to have antiviral properties, but these properties have not been tested. This herb is one of many which have been subjected to rigorous scientific studies. One of the reasons herbs aren't well accepted in the medical profession is that each individual plant differs from another in the amount of therapeutic compound it contains. The only way to know what you are getting is to take the herb in tablet form.

    Herbs too, however, have side effects, and it is a myth that they have milder or fewer side effects than commercial medicines. It may be true that specific herbs have less side effects than commercial medicines used for treating the same condition, but this is not a general rule. Equally important is that these herbs may interact with other medicines, and that includes both herbal and commercial medicines. So please excercise caution and get to know the possible side effects and interactions, and what the safe dose is. It is possible to OD on herbs, especially when they are taken in conjunction with other medicines/herbs. If you are unsure about correct dose, I recommend you try to obtain the herbs you use in tablet form, and ask the company who manufactures it for more information regarding side effects and interactions.
  6. by   Hypoxic Pixel Eyes
    I personally believe pharmaceutical companies would be all over this subject like ants at a picnic!(if there were any bucks in it for them)
    I work at a retail nutrition company selling herbal supplements(while going to school) and you would be shocked to find out that this national chain has customers that would ask the advice of some person that has a little more than a nametag to qualify them as any kind of authority.
    I actualy would not make any statement without some facts to back them up and I would make no comment if I thought the persons ignorance would compromise thier safety except to say "you really should talk to your doctor about that,they have about 10 yrs of school more than me."
    Which brings me to the reason for this post in the first place.I probably know more about herbs than most MDs since I've put in the due diligence to survey what little information there is in the way of real science,on the other hand MDs are thier caregivers and they should know at least what would be contraindicated for the paticular meds or disease process and advise thier patient against what might harm them(yuh think?).
    I wish I had a dollar for every person that I said "don't you think you should be talking to your doctor about that?"hoping that would get them to realize they are talking to a glorified clerk with limited medical backround and they said "I did and he just said he doesn't know about herbs"
    Ah,good one...good answer.
    Until herbs are accepted on a widespread basis and there is some research money to be spent(there will be a market MDs can get a piece of)then what are we going to do about these poor trusting people that need our help?
    I would be pleased to refer them to a dicilpline of healthcare if one such existed.
    In lieu of such a miracle anytime soon is there some references you would recommend so that I can be adequately prepared to serve my patients once I am a trained caregiver?
    Brad Salomon
  7. by   Doc
    Originally posted by Hypoxic Pixel Eyes:
    I would be pleased to refer them to a dicilpline of healthcare if one such existed.
    In lieu of such a miracle anytime soon is there some references you would recommend so that I can be adequately prepared to serve my patients once I am a trained caregiver?
    Brad Salomon
    This is pretty much all that exists to date that I know of in terms of empirical evidence for herbal remedies:

    1. Armstrong NC, Ernst E. The treatment of eczema with Chinese herbs: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1999;48:262-264.

    2. Budeiri D, Li Wan Po A, Dornan JC. Is evening primrose oil of value in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome? Control Clin Trials 1996;17:60-68.

    3. Diehm. C. The role of oedema protective drugs in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency: a review of evidence based on placebo-controlled clinical trials with regard to efficacy and tolerance. Phlebology 1996;11:23-29.

    4. Ernst E. St. John's Wort, an anti-depressant? A systematic, criteria-based review. Phytomed 1995;2:67-71.

    5. Ernst E. Ginkgo biloba in der Behandlung der Claudicatio intermittens. Forttschr Med 1996;8:85-88.

    6. Ernst E, Rand JI, Barnes J, Stevinson C. Adverse effects profile of the herbal antidepressant St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum L). Eur J Clin Pharmacol 1998;54:589-594.

    7. Ernst E, Pittler MH. Yohimbine for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. J Urol 1998;159:433-436.

    8. Ernst E. The efficacy of Phytodolor ® for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain - a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Nat Med J 1999;2:14-17.

    9. Ernst E, Stevinson C. Ginkgo biloba for tinnitus: a review. Clin Otolaryngol 1999;24:164-167.

    10. Ernst E, Pittler M1-1. Ginkgo biloba for Dementia. A systematic review of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Clin Drug Invest 1999;17:301-308.

    11. Hopfenmüller W. Nachweis der therapEuropean Uniontischen Wirksamkeit eines Ginkgo biloba-Spezialextraktes Meta-Analyse von 11 klinischen Studien mit Patienten mit Himleistungsstörungen im Alter. Arzneimittelforschung /Drug Res 1994;44:1005-1013.

    12. Kiene H. Klinische Studien zur Misteltherapie karzinomatöser Erkrankungen. Therapeutikon 1989;6:347-353.

    13. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G. Garlic, onions and cardiovascular risk factors. A review of the evidence from human experiments with emphasis on commercially available preparations. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1989;28:535-544.

    14. Kleijnen J. Controlled clinical trials in humans on the effects of garlic supplements. In: Kleijnen J (ed). Food supplements and their efficacy. Maastricht: Riftsuniversiteit Limburg, 1991:73-82.

    15. Kleijnen J, ter Riet G, Knipschild P. Evening primrose oil. In: Kleijnen J (ed). Food supplements and their efficacy. Maastricht: Rijksuniversiteit Limburg, 1991;51-61.

    16. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Ginkgo biloba for cerebral insufficiency. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1992;34:352-358.

    17. Kleijiien J, Knipschild P. Mistletoe treatment for cancer. Review of controlled trials in humans. Phytomed 1994;1:255-260.

    18. Melchart D, Linde K, Fischer P, Kaesmayr J. Echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold. The Cochrane Library 1999;1:1-14.

    19. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, Bauer R, Wagner H. Immunomodulation with Echinacea - a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Phytomed 1994;1:245-254.

    20. Morse PF, Horrobin DF, Manku MS, Stewart JCM, Allen R, Littlewood S, et al. Meta-analysis of placebo-controlled studies of the efficacy of Epogam in the treatment of atopic eczema. Relationship between plasma essential fatty acid changes and resonenses. Br J Dermatol 1989;121:75-90.

    21. Neil HAW, Silagy CA, Lancaster T, Hodgeman J, Vos K, Moore JW, Jones L, Cahill J, Fowler GH. Garlic powder in the treatment of moderate hyperlipidaemia: a controlled trial and meta-analysis. J Roy Coll Phys London 1996;30:329-334.

    22. Oken BS, Storzbach DM, Kaye JA. The efficacy of Ginkgo biloba on cognitive function in Aliheimer disease. Arch Neurol 1998;55:1409-1415.

    23. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome: a critical review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol 1998;93:1131-1135.

    24. Pittler MH, Emst E. Horse-Chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. Arch Dermatol 1998;134:1356-1360.

    25. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Artemether for severe malaria: a meta-analysis of randomised clinical trials. Clin Infect Dis 1999;28:597-601.

    26. Stevinson C, Ernst E. Safety of Hypericum in Patients with Depression. CNS Drugs 1999;11:125-32.

    27. Schneider B. Ginkgo biloba extract in peripheral arterial diseases. Meta-analysis of controlled clinical studies. Arzneimittelforschung 199;242:428-436.

    28. Silagy C, Neil A. Garlic as a lipid lowering agent - a meta-analysis. J Roy Coll Phys 1994;28:39-45.

    29. Vogler BK, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Feverfew as a preventive treatment for migraine: a systematic review. Cephalalgia 1998;18:704-708.

    30. Warshafsky S, Kamer RS, Sivak SL. Effect of garlic on total serum cholesterol. Ann Intern Med 1993;119:599-605.

    31. Weib G, Kallischnigg G. Gingko-biloba-Extrakt. Meta-Analyse von Studien zur therapeutischen Wirksamkeit bei Hirnleistungsstörungen bzw. peripherer arterieller Verschlubkrankheit. Muench Med Wschr 1991;10:138-142.

    32. Weihmayr T, Ernst E. Die therapeutische Wirksamkeit von Crataegus. Fortschr Med 1996;114:5-7.

    33. Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Stark G, MacDonald R, Lau J, Mulrow C. Saw palmetto extracts for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. JAMA 1998;280(18):1604-1609.

    There are some books out there, but as well as being outdated they do not offer much in terms of empirical evidence.

    HerbMed is an excellent database with lots of useful information on herbs, with some evidence provided for a few of the herbs. The adverse effects, contraindications and interactions of the herbs are also available on the site. The address is

    In addition you might like to try for some info on Chinese Herbal Medicine.

    If aromatherapy interests you, check out the post I made on that subject at


  8. by   Tim-GNP
    I am actually in the process of treating myself with glucosamine & chondroiton for my knees. I used to be a runner & did some SERIOUS damage. I am at the end of my 1st month and the pain is so much less severe. They say it takes 6-8 weeks, so I am going to keep on trying it.
  9. by   Bonnie Blue
    I agree that herbs can be beneficial. In Europe, there is a governing body that sets standards for herbals. Commission E(?) monographs can tell you use and dose information. Unfortunately, in the US, herbs are not regulated and so it's buyer beware in many cases. Additionally, many physicians are not trained in complementary medicine so it's hard to get good information.
    I have the book "The Green Pharmacy" by James A Duke. It's very compehensive and is written by a USDA botanist who has studied and used herbs for many years.
  10. by   duckie
    Doc, thanks for the excellent website. I can understand why so many are leary of herbs and I do wish the government would fund studies to prove or disprove their benefits. I believe in the ones I take but am very cautious when adding new ones and checks as many sources as I can before deciding to add it to my regimen. Maybe someday we can truly know their benefits.