The latest trend in health care is the "all natural" an herbal remedies. The number of people who believe this is safer then medications from doctors and pharmacies is huge and growing. I like to be a responsible parent so of course I ha to look into this and ask around. I've been around a lot of health care providers of all types lately so I'm asking them all and here's my results.
They are NOT safer. They are not created in an environment controlled for this purpose so I personally see contamination concerns, but the medical community is much more concerned about possible interactions. Since people think it's safer they don't always check for interactions, and even if they do not all interactions have been found. We don't know what happens when you mix them with prescription medication, and often those prescriptions are life saving or necessary (I don't know anyone who takes something just because). There hasn't been enough research to say for sure they are safe.
There are no record of long term effects. Most of the herbal solutions are offered as not having side effects (which isn't true, or they wouldn't work. The thing you want them to do is not necessarily the only thing they will do). They are said to have no lasting affects. Ok, opening a can of worms, that's what has been said about marihuana which has since been proven to cause memory loss and can damage brain cells, so why wouldn't other herbs do the same? Anything that affects our body and how it functions can affect it negatively. We simply don't know enough to say these wont cause damage in the long run, which in my opinion makes them a little scary.
Just because they are herbal doesn't mean you can't overdose. Alcohol is natural, it comes from fruit, etc, an fermentation is a natural process, yet it acts on our bodies by poisoning them, which is how a person gets drunk. Yet alcohol poisoning is common and a risk people assume when drinking. This doesn't mean it's all bad, it's great for cleaning and disinfecting and other purposes, but overuse is clearly dangerous.
We don't know how every person will react, and of course people react to things differently, so each person who takes it risks a negative reaction. Penecillin is naturally occurring yet many have life threatening reactions, as is the same with nuts, fish, and sometimes wheat... Many natural occurring things are dangerous for some people. This means any of those herbs can be as well, and by not having the same medical testing, preparation, and supervision as other medicines the risk is greater.
This all seems a little to me like walking into the forest and eating random berries even knowing that some of them can kill you. No, I don't think chemicals or perscriptions or medications of ANY kind are always the solution, I just wanted to raise a little awareness of how they are all equally risky and have downsides.
Please, ask your pharmacist or doctor before using anything especially if you are taking anything else (yup, cough syrup too!). The first thing my pharmacist said about a herbal solution for my child was "we don't recommend anything herbal for children at all, we just don't know the effects". Sure, they may be safe, and maybe the ingredients are supposed to be ok, but we just don't know.