A guide to herbal remedies

Wednesday 30th July

What you need to know before trying medicinal plants.

Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years and our ancestors would have taken them to ease aches and pains, and other common ailments. Modern medicine has in fact learnt many lessons from these traditional cures, and certain prescription medications today have their roots in the natural world. For example the active ingredient in aspirin, acetyl salicylic acid, is a synthesised version of a compound found in willow bark. Like all medicines, however, herbal remedies can have side-effects and may interact with any other medication you may be taking.

Popular remedies

The herbal medicines below have traditionally been used to cure or ease the following conditions. The scientific evidence to support their efficacy is, on the whole, patchy at best and there are now strict regulations in place to limit the health claims that the manufacturers can make.

Are herbal remedies for me?

There is no single definitive answer and it is often down to personal preference. However, there are some important safety recommendations to bear in mind before you try.

Know what you're buying

In addition to the recommendations above, another sensible safeguard is to check for a THR certification mark on the packaging. This means that the herbal remedy is part of the
Traditional Herbal Remedy scheme controlled by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The THR mark shows that the MHRA has tested the product to be sure that it meets set safety requirements and manufacturing standards, and is accompanied by accurate product information.

Further information

The NHS Choices website has an entire section on herbal medicine. Read more about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) along with topics on keeping healthy in our a healthier you section.

Click on the relevant link to find out about the CAM therapies, including homeopathy, that are covered by our cash plans for those aged 65 and under and the over 65s.

 

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