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Herbs have been used to treat common disorders for thousands of years. Many still rely on potent mixtures for everything that ails them. In recent years, the production and usage of herbal therapies has more than tripled, and it's estimated that more than eighty percent of the population subscribes to some form of herbal therapy. Even traditional medical doctors are beginning to agree with what herbologists have been saying for years: Herbal therapy does work.

Herbs can be made of any number of ingredients, including bark, berries, roots, gums, seeds, stems and flowers. There are just as many ways to utilize the benefits of herbs, as well. You can make a preperation in your home from fresh or dried ingredients or buy pre-packaged pills, powders, teas and infusions.

WHY TAKE HERBS?
People have begun turning to herbal therapies more and more because they produce very few (if any) side effects, unlike traditional medicine. Herbal therapy is also consistently less expensive than its medicinal counterpart. This is not however, an endorsement against traditional medical treatment. Both herbologists and doctors agree that a combination program (when dealing with serious illness) is still the best form of treatment.

INTERACTION WITH OTHER MEDICINES
Just because herbs are made of natural ingredients does not mean they're one hundred percent safe. Much like traditional medicines can interfere with one another, so can herbal products. Those on MAO inhibitors should be especially cautious of or avoid taking St. Johns Wort, Licorice and Passion Flower, as there are known adverse reactions. As always, it's best to consult with your doctor before beginning any new treatment program.

DOSING
Always pay attention to the label or product instructions. "More" is not better. It often takes only a small amount of herbs to heal what ails you. Do not over medicate yourself. Herbs can be toxic in large doses, just as traditional medicine is.

ALLERGIES
If you suffer from hay fever, asthma or allergies, it's often best to consult with an herbologist or doctor before beginning an herbal therapy. Allergy concerns (especially in bee pollens and with certain roots) are just as prevalent as with traditional medications.

COMMON HERBAL THERAPIES
There are literally thousands of herbs on the market that can heal a variety of minor illnesses. Your doctor or herbologist can guide you in the right direction.

ALFALFA: Has been used for centuries to heal allergies, arthritis, morning sickness, peptic ulcers, stomach ailments and kidney toxins. Alfalfa is considered a cleansing herb. It neutralizes acids and is an excellent blood purifier and thinner. Alfalfa is a safe, non-reactive herb.

ALOE: Beauty creams and lotions have been reaping the benefits of aloe for years. It is a common sunburn reliever, skin softener and protector. Taken internally as a juice, however, aloe can also alleviate constipation. Aloe is used to treat acne, canker and mouth sores and heal burns. It can be applied directly from an aloe plant, if desired.

CAPSICUM: More commonly known as Red Peppers, capsicum is a proven healer. Even though it may burn your mouth on pizza dishes, it is widely used to reduce fevers, heal ulcers and calm digestive system disorders when taken in larger doses.

CHAMOMILE: Is another cleanser. It tones the digestive tract and calms nervous stomachs. Chamomile can be made into a soothing tea or taken internally in pill form. It is readily available in many name brand vitamins today.

ECHINACEA: Is used to fight infection, colds and flus and is a proven lymph system enhancer. Now sold in popular cough syrups and drops, Echinacea is already widely used by the medical community, and can be taken in a variety of forms, including chewable tablets.

GARLIC: Another natural antibiotic, garlic is praised by millions world wide for its healing properties. Garlic is extremely effective in dissolving and cleansing cholesterol from the blood stream. It also helps to stimulate the digestive tract. It kills worms and parasites and harmful bacteria. Garlic will help to reduce a fever, eliminate gas and put an end to cramping pain. It's used by athletes for strength and energy. Widely known and used, garlic can be crushed by hand and ingested or purchased in capsule form (which has fewer side effects and odors.)

GINGER: Is often used by pregnant women to combat morning sickness. It's also used by travelers to prevent and treat motion sickness. Providing a calming effect, ginger works wonderfully on all major digestive disorders, flu aches and pains and can also help increase stamina. Ginger tea can be made at home by slicing off a small portion of ginger and placing it in a boiling kettle of water.

GINSENG: Now commonly found in many household vitamins, ginseng has been providing increased endurance and vitality for years. Considered a mental and physical stimulant, ginseng is the "caffeine" of the nature world.

Gota kola: Known as "brain food," gota kola helps to alleviate fatigue and tighten up memory problems.

LICORICE: This isn't your father's licorice. Sold as a root or pill, Licorice helps to expel mucous from the respiratory tract, making it an excellent treatment for minor cold and flu symptoms. Licorice is also used to treat stomach ulcers, hypoglycemia and constipation.

PEPPERMINT: Will help to calm an upset stomach and when taken with ginger, provides an excellent cure for heartburn, indigestion and most digestive disorders.