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The Practical Herbalist

Drugs and Herbs

Physicians have valid concerns about the use of herbal medicines and how that will affect the physician prescribed treatment of a patient. As a herbalist I am very aware of these concerns. Many herbalists are cautious and conservative in their treatments when there are prescribed medications involved. Often this is done so as to not put the patient into an uncomfortable spot between physician concerns and the herbalist prescriptions.

The truth is that herbs prescribed by a nationally certified herbal practitioner is very safe. The real problem comes from patients self prescribing herbal or home remedies without understanding the nature of what the treatments will do. Herbal advice out of a magazine or off of a website, does not take into account all of the variables that are specific to the patient and what their problems and specifics are.

A good example is a patient who was trying to control acid reflux. Unfortunately she did not understand the medications she was put on. The stomach produces acid as a way to breakdown and digest food. Due to a variety of reasons this acid can back up into the esophagus where it does not belong. There are many ways to treat this problem. The Traditional herbal approach is to identify why digestion is backed up (emotional, dietary, intestinal blockage, etc.) and find ways to try to improve the efficiency of the digestive process, eliminating the problem. In biomedical medicine the treatment usually involves decreasing the acid in the stomach to reduce the amount that can back up. This is done most often through the classic ant-acids (calcium carbonate) which neutralizes the acid. A newer popular option is to use drugs called proton pump inhibitors to decrease the production of acid.

In the case of this particular patient patient, She was on proton pump inhibitors to decrease the amount of acid in the stomach. She was also reading about natural remedies to help with digestion. As a result she was also using apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is an acid and helps the digestion of those who do not produce enough acid to digest their food properly. The result is that she was trying to add and decrease acid in her stomach at the same time. As a result she did not see any relief.

It is important for all patients to ask questions. Understand why you are on a drug or and herb, and what it does. Always get advice from someone who can look at everything about you and determine what you really need.

David Bock

This article was from David's LakeCountryOnline.com column, "The Practical Herbalist"

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David Bock, C. Ac., Dipl. OM, FABORM
Wisconsin Certified Acupuncturist
National Board Certification in Oriental Medicine
Fellow American Board Of Oriental Reproductive Medicine

Bock Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine
888 Thackeray Trail #206
Oconomowoc, Wisconsin 53066