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Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements have been used for many years.  In 1734, Benjamin Franklin published a treatise by John Tennent – Every Man His Own Doctor or The Poor Man’s Physician.  In it, Tennent collected natural herbal remedies for the cure of a wide variety of illnesses facing Colonial Americans.  Tennent designed his treatise for ‘those who can’t afford to dye by the Hand of a Doctor’ and in it he promised:

“Before I mention the Cure, I shall endeavor to describe the Symptoms of each Distemper, in so plain a Manner, that any Person may be Master of his own Case, if he

will but attend carefully to what he feels; otherwise he might mistake his Illness, and apply an improper Remedy.  I shall also recommend the Diet fittest to be used in each Case; which often contributes more to the Patient's Recovery, than his Physick (doctor):  At the same Time, he shall have my best Advice to prevent every particular Ailment; which will be happier for him, than to know how to cure it.”

Ben Franklin knew a good thing when he saw it – the pamphlet was republished by his press in 1736 and again in 1737.  Every Man His Own Doctor was the first published work on herbal remedies in the New World – and it specifically offered herbal preparations as an alternative to the expense and dangers of ‘modern medicine’ – 350 years ago.  Tennent also focused on knowing your own body and the effects of diet on health and prevention as preferable to cure – all tenets that are of major importance in holistic medicine even today. 

Setting aside Tennent’s use of “Every Man,” his premise is well taken.  We are each fully responsible for our own health.  And for years, herbs have played an important role in optimum health. 

Holistic medicine and herbal supplements have been used for thousands of years in many cultures. Traditional Chinese herbal medicine dates back almost 4,000 years, and is highly regarded not only among herbalists in China, but among the conventional medical community.  Western medicine has been slower to re-examine the traditional herbal supplements, but as study after study proves the effectiveness and safety of many herbal preparations that have been used for centuries, even western doctors are starting to take notice.

In recent years, supplements have come to the forefront of medical examination and literature again.  Conventional modern medicine is taking a closer, harder look at herbal supplements like black cohosh, echinacea, red rice yeast, saw palmetto and gingko biloba and finding that many traditional herbal treatments live up to their traditional reputations.

Because of the proof offered by clinical trials, organizations like the American Academy of Family Physicians now present information on herbal supplements, as well as recommendations for safe use.  You can find a great deal of information about current clinical trials and results at www.nccam.nih.gov, the web site of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine maintained by the National Institutes of Health.

Because the safety and effectiveness of any herbal supplement depends on taking it appropriately and in the right dosages, we recommend that you always consult your doctor before beginning to take any herbal supplement.  This is especially important if you are taking other prescription medications or are scheduled for surgery. We also recommend that you use herbal supplement products from a manufacturer that shows GMP compliancy, and read labels carefully for dosage and ingredient information.

Herbal supplements can be a valuable tool in your quest for optimal health.



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