Know how to use herb

Millions of Americans take dietary supplements. Vitamins and minerals are usually downed with breakfast. Now, herbs are also finding their way into our diets. In fact, last year Americans spent $3.2 billion on Mother Nature’s remedies. Do you know what’s out there in the land of herbs? We’ll give you a little herbal know-how.

James Adair, D.C., has been a chiropractor for 22 years. Besides physical adjustments, he advises his patients to take herbs. “The herbs will help cleanse the system, detoxify the body,” says Dr. Adair, a chiropractic physician in Winter Park, Fla.

This chiropractor isn’t the only herb aficianado. Millions of Americans are using natural remedies. Kathryn Ferrante, N.D., is a doctor of naturopathy in Winter Park, Fla. “Herbs are foods. What they do is they feed and nourish the body. They bring it into balance and help to restore your health,” she says.

Kathryn owns a store filled with herbs and natural remedies. She offers this advice: “When you take homeopaths, you shouldn’t use any peppermint, and you should always do them before you eat.”

Peppermint stops homeopaths from working. They work on the principle of like curing like. So the formula for inflammation actually contains poison ivy. Let’s take a look at some of Mother Nature’s other remedies.

Lobelia… “It’s an expectorant,” says Kathryn. “So it’s very good for the respiratory system.”

Ho shou wu… “Ho sho wu helps to regenerate the cells,” she says.

And blue cohosh and black cohosh? Kathryn says, “This is taken when they’re trying to induce labor.”

Although these remedies come from nature, use them with caution. The Food and Drug Administration has listed 16 dietary supplements as risky. Among them is ephedra, known to cause heart palpitations and strokes. Also be cautious with chaparral, linked to liver damage, and the hormone DHEA, which causes side effects like fainting and hepatitis.

So buyer beware and check them out first.

Many spices we use in foods are also herbs, like garlic, which is said to reduce high blood pressure, and cayenne pepper, which is a treatment for sore throats.

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