Safety With Herbs in Healing and Magick
I want to talk to you about Safety. There are a lot of common misconceptions out there regarding herbal healing, and I hope with this article to be able to clear some of those up. Safety with any treatment is essential for overall health and well-being, whether it be allopathic or alternative in nature. Yes, herbs are natural, but natural things can hurt you too, i.e. tornadoes, poisons, avalanches, rattlesnakes, etc. You must understand something about the power of herbs, even if all you ever do is use them for magickal or religious purposes.
Herbs Are Medicine!!
They should be treated with the very same respect that most of us give to prescription drugs. Many herbs can be harmful in large or prolonged dosages, as can most anything in this life, I might add. Many herbs can be addictive after long term improper use. Some are poisonous. Some can have toxic side effects if not properly balanced with herbs that counteract those effects. They should not ever be used indiscriminately without the proper guidance of a health care professional. They should not ever be used on a daily basis without the proper guidance of a health care professional. Many people feel that just because herbs are natural, they can't be hurt by them. Nothing can be further from the truth.
More Is Not Better!!
Many people feel that if a little makes me feel better, a lot will make me feel fantastic. This is not the case with herbs. Dosages need to be carefully controlled, as with any medicine. You wouldn't swallow a whole bottle of antibiotics at one time to kill a bacterial infection. Apply the same caution to herbal medicines. It is possible to overdose! Herbs work slowly, with the body and its own natural defenses. You must give herbs time to work before changing your dosages. In this modern world of a "pill for everything", folks have come to expect instant cures, instant relief. You should note that with chronic illness, even prescription drugs take time to work. The same applies with herbal medicines. Give them time to work. Support them with a proper diet, with exercise, and with proper attention to yourself. If the herbs aren't working for you, then you either have the wrong combinations, the wrong dosages, or you aren't adhering to a proper healing regimen. Contact a health care professional for guidance as to what works for you.
One Dose Does Not Fit All!!
You wouldn't give a small child the same amount of cough syrup you give an adult. The same applies with herbal medicines. The dose must fit the individual. The dosages need to be based on the illness treated, your past and present medical history, your age, your weight, and several other factors. Combinations must be chosen so as not to interfere with any specifics with your particular body, and so as not to further aggravate that which is being treated. A health care professional can help you choose the proper combinations and dosages for your unique body and health concerns.
Tell Your Doctor What You Are Taking!!
You wouldn't hide the fact that you are a smoker or a drinker or have a heart condition from your physician. You shouldn't hide the fact that you are using herbal medicines, either. Some herbs can have serious adverse reactions when improperly mixed with prescription drugs. Just because they are natural doesn't mean there can't be reactions! Many chemical drugs are derived from healing plant constituents. So you could be causing a serious problem for yourself if you are getting far too much of something that is supposed to be helping you. There is no reason to hide. Herbal healing is becoming much more mainstream today, and many physicians are learning about herbs as medicine. If yours isn't, then help educate him or her. Or find a doctor that can help you work with your herbs. Most communities have herbal professionals, naturopathic doctors, Chinese Medicine practitioners, and other professionals that are trained in the proper uses of the healing herbs. Seek one out before you make some major mistakes with your precious body.
But The Drug Companies Are Recommending Herbs!!
Indeed, there are growing numbers of drug companies that are jumping on the natural health bandwagon. However, this does not give you license to just use whatever you see in hopes that it will improve your condition. Again, most herbs should not be used on a daily basis over the long term. That can actually do more harm than not using an herb at all. Educate yourself before reaching for that one-a-day herb. You may not need it for what you think you do. Just because it has a "name" behind it does not make it safe for continued daily use. Seek guidance if you are confused or unsure of what to do with these new products.
Following these guidelines will help you to get the most from your herbal treatments. You will be healthier and happier if you don't fall for media hype. Stick to what is known. Don't indiscriminately choose an herb without knowing exactly what to expect from it, good and bad. Always treat your herbal medicines with respect, and they will do the same for you.
Now, you started reading this article hoping to find information regarding magickal uses of herbs. So, here is the part that deals with that.
Think Before You Use!
Some herbs are dangerous to burn. Others should not be placed on the skin or in a magickal potion that you are going to drink. Many of the old "flying ointments/potions" contain herbs that are dangerous, so these should not be tampered with unless you know exactly what you are doing. These kinds of herbal applications are definitely not for the beginner!!!
Think Before You Choose!
Just because you walk into a metaphysical store and see herbs or herbal products available next to the altar items, do not assume that they are safe for you. Do not assume that the proprietor of the store (or the mail-order firm) has any idea how to properly and safely use or handle those herbs. A good indicator that you need to go somewhere else is the person has to read a book to answer your basic questions. Or the person has displays of herbs, but no real knowledge of what is in the package nor how much or how often you should use the product. This should signal to you that the person is not trained, and you should shop elsewhere, or go in with your own researched information in hand. You'll be able to tell, so follow your instincts. If all you are ever going to do is use the herbs in your spells and potions and blessings, it is still important to know how not to use them.
Always treat healing herbs with respect. Always treat them as if they are precious - more is not better, including in magick! Always treat them as if they could harm you, then you won't be tempted to overindulge. Always try a small amount of a new herb first; if it is to be ingested by you, try a small amount and be alert for reactions. Immediate serious allergic reaction includes anaphylactic shock, although this is a rare occurrence. You may get headaches, upset stomach, rashes, etc. so a little is the best way to start. One reaction does not fit all, so the recommendations of your neighbor may not be what is necessary for your specific needs. Certain herbs should never be mixed with certain prescriptions, even when it is only applied topically or burned. Remember that your skin is the largest organ of your body, and things applied to it will affect you internally. Keep that in mind when mixing your potions, as some herbs can test you positive for drug use, even when applied on the skin. When in doubt, see someone like me, a certified Naturopathic Doctor, or a certified Master Herbalist, or someone similarly qualified.
When using an herb for magickal purposes, try a small patch test first if it is something that you will apply, i.e. an anointing oil, a salve, etc. The best place for a patch test is in the tender skin in the area where your forearm and upper arm come together. Check for reaction over a day or so, if none, then go ahead and use, but do keep an eye out for later reactions. If burning herbs as incense, try a small amount first, and see if it irritates you before going ahead. Some herbs can cause serious headaches when burned, some can irritate the lungs, especially for asthmatics. There are so many herbs, and so many that are interchangeable for various magickal uses, that if you are allergic to something or have a negative reaction to something, there is always a substitute herb that you can use.
Medicinal Herbs in healing is a very complicated subject. I have been working with medicinal herbs for over 16 years, have a national Naturopathic Doctor (ND) certification, and am still learning something new nearly every day. Obviously this is not something that can be covered, even in basics, in an article or two. The same applies to the magickal uses of those same herbs; I'm still learning after all of these years of spiritual use. There is always something more to learn. Make it your mission to thoroughly research anything you are going to use in your workings to be certain you won't harm yourself or someone else, and in so doing, you will discover what will help make your workings more powerful and special.
Blessings and Good Health!
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