How to Start Herbal Medicines

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Interviewer: If somebody wants to, if somebody is on a medication, and is
sick of being on prescription drugs, or want to try something new, want to
go natural... How do they start? How do they, if they want to look into
herbal or botanical medicine, where would you suggest they get started?

Roy Upton, RH, DAyu: There's a double-edged sword to that. The first is you
have to ask the question in a different way. It's not what kind of herbs
they want to look for, but instead, how do they change their health status?
Meaning, what dietary changes do they have to make, what lifestyle changes
do they have to make because in most cases, we catch colds, we get flus and
viruses, and stuff like that. But, by and large, especially with the
chronic stuff, we don't "catch" cancer, we develop cancer. We don't "catch"
diabetes, in most cases, we develop diabetes. We don't "catch" obesity, we
develop obesity over time. Arthritis... Name all the chronic diseases,
heart disease, the most reversible disease in the world, but it kills more
Americans than anything else, but totally reversible, but it's lifestyle
induced. Most of them are lifestyle induced.

So, you have to first ask the question, "What am I doing in my life that
needs to change?" The first place you have to look at is diet, then your
lifestyle, stress reduction, exercise and, then, that's when you go and
say, "What herbs do I use to help facilitate this process."

There's a little bit of a problem to say, "I have high blood pressure, what
herbs should I take for high blood pressure." No, you have to say why you
have high blood pressure. Is it because of stress? Is it because of weight?
Is it because of fluid retention. Is it because of hardening of the
arteries? You have to kind of "tease out" exactly what's going on with your
blood pressure, then see what kind of changes you have to make, and, then,
"What supplements should I take in order to support the system?" So that
you change the system and not just chase symptoms and that's the key about
true herbal medicine is about changing the systems, not just... anybody can
get rid of a symptom.

Interviewer: Right.

Roy: It's easy to kill pain, it's easy to get somebody down or get somebody
up or get somebody to go to the bathroom or stopping somebody with
diarrhea. Symptoms are easy to manage. It's harder to get somebody to
really change their system, and that's where true herbal medicine comes.

So to get back to the where do you go. We're actually lucky today in that
there's a plethora of information available right at your fingertips. While
the Internet has been criticized for having un-vetted, uncritical
information, it also has a tremendous amount of  incredibly well-vetted
information. Really good information. Even things like Wikipedia, I mean,
have experts that continually chime in on the protocols and definitions
that are put on Wikipedia. Web M.D. has their own forums. Andy Lisle has
his own forums. The Mayo Clinic, M.D. Anderson, National Institutes of
Health, Office of Dietary Supplements; these are all organizations that
have done some level of vetting of the information on their site. Now, mind
you, most of those will be very conservative, because they don't want to
send people down a rosy herbal path, and, you know, say, "Don't go see your
Doctor," or anything like that. So they're going to be very conservative.
But the basis of the information is there. The basis of the dietary changes
to make are there like the American Heart Association.

And anti-cancer diet recommendations are there on the, you know, American
Cancer Control Associations website. So are Cancer Control Societies of
America or the National Cancer Institute. Everyone is talking about anti-
cancer diets.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Roy: So, that's the first place, is just to start asking the questions and
getting the information. Now, I tend to be a critical thinker. So when I
get information I can tease, separate wheat from chaff, tease out what's
real and what's wrong, what's not. It is harder for people who aren't as
invested in this area as I am, but that's the single most important thing I
could say to anybody on the track of healing that they have to become an
expert in their own condition and they can't just believe everything
somebody says or everything they read. They have to say, "What makes sense
to them," and, usually, it's going to be a balanced approach, one that
incorporates diet, lifestyle, stress reduction, exercise, and supplements
in conjunction with that.
If you're looking to try a different way of achieving health and healing, Roy Upton has some tips to consider. Mr. Upton is the Executive Director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. He discusses some issues you want to know about before finding that herb to treat your condition.

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