It's important when seeking online herbal remedies advice to look critically at the information source and verify if the source is reliable. Many companies and individuals promote and sell herbal remedies. It's in their best interest to make sweeping statements about herbal efficacy and downplay side effects. Yet anyone considering herbal remedies should look at all aspects of herbal medicine, not just what the herb cures, but also the side effects, risks and research supporting efficacy claims.
A Critical Look at Online Herbal Remedies Advice
Use any common search engine and you'll find a plethora of online herbal remedies advice. Some sources provide valuable information, presented with scientific evidence. Others make sweeping claims for health while neglecting side effects or contraindications advice. How can a reader tell if the advice is fact or fiction?
Many governments support and sponsor studies of herbal medicine and provide searchable online databases in English and other languages. In the United States, the main source of information on herbal remedies is the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Their website, affiliated with the National Institute of Health, provides an overview of most common herbs, their efficacy, side effects and any scientific research on the herb. As part of the United States government, it is not affiliated with any special interest or corporation and provides herbal remedies advice in a neutral, scientific manner. Information on the site also includes topics such as acupuncture and homeopathy. In the United Kingdom, the MHRA offers similar advice.
Universities and Health Organizations
Many health organizations around the world, as well as universities, sponsor herbal research and present online herbal advice. Often this information is unbiased, but sometimes companies sponsor medical research and may have a stake in a positive outcome. When in doubt, check the funding source for the study.
One of the most famous organizations providing online remedy advice is the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic provides an online drug and herb index containing online advice on remedies ranging from pharmaceutical drugs to vitamins and supplements. Remedies receive a letter grade for how well they hold up against their claims. Under Echinacea, for example, its claims as a treatment for upper respiratory infections rate a grade of C since studies reveal contradictory advice.
Individual Healthcare Providers
Individual natural healthcare providers, such as herbalists, doctors of naturopathy, homeopathic physicians and modern medical doctors trained in herbal medicine may also provide free herbal remedy advice on their websites. As with all Internet sources, it's vital to examine the credentials of the person providing the information. Bear in mind that anyone can create and publish a website, and post credentials too. If the advice seems peculiar, slanted towards purchasing expensive or strange products, or overblown, visit another site.
Dr. Andrew Weil is perhaps the best-known healthcare provider offering online herbal remedy advice. His website provides guidance on remedies for health challenges such as arthritis, menopause, and more. Many trust Dr. Weil's advice because he is a Western-trained medical doctor with modern medical skills who also understands and appreciates the use of complimentary and alternative therapies.
Other Sources of Herbal Advice
Two additional sources of herbal advice are worth mentioning, but users must take care to examine the information source and compare it against reputable sources. General information sources include websites posted and maintained by groups, organizations, or individuals who may not have a scientific background. Company websites provide information on herbal remedies but companies have a vested interest in selling products, so the remedies may always sound positive and proven when the research may be mixed or contradictory.
General Information Sources
Many people turn to Holistic Online for herbal remedies advice. With its easy alphabetical listing of herbs and other links to alternative therapies, it provides a good overview of the world of alternative medicine.
Many companies, either manufacturers or retail companies selling herbal products, provide online advice. Searchable databases, product overviews and review of herbal products provide additional information. Take this information from where it comes and consider it against information from neutral sources, such as government websites and independent research conducted by academic institutions or health organizations. When discussing SinuCheck from Enzymatic Therapy, Cheryl Myers cited documented double-blind research published in highly reputable journals to support the company's claims that their natural sinus remedies work. Such reputable research mentioned on company websites can indicate useful, thorough and accurate research, as long as the company accurately quotes the research.
Bear in mind that companies want one thing: profits. While some are reputable and provide only good information, many exaggerate claims to sell more herbal products. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and you should look for additional information to supplement the company claims.
- eVitamins provides online herbal remedies information and advice but is an online retailers of herbs, vitamins and supplements.
- Native Remedies also provides an index of conditions and herbal remedies, and sells herbal products.
As with all online medical advice, talk to a qualified healthcare provider about medical conditions, treatment options, and herbal remedies. Many herbs should not be taken with prescription medications, so it's important to talk to a doctor before taking herbs or any alternative therapies.