Friday, October 16, 2015

No Free Lunch

Last week, a friend asked me what I thought of herbal remedies. (She probably regretted it almost instantly.)

While others have done an excellent job summarizing evidence, and lack thereof, about herbs, I want to reiterate what I told my friend, because I think it's the most overlooked point about 'using plants like out bloodletting ancestors who  frequently died in childbirth and of common infections':  any dose of something large enough to have an effect is a dose large enough to have a side effect.  If herbs work, it's because there's a real, bioactive component.  We call those drugs.  


  1. Anonymous9:16 AM

    Oh, I dunno. Ginger tea kept my nausea down in pregnancy with no ill effect. Anti-nausea medication has side effects and would have been over-kill. That's the only example I can think of though.

  2. I'll grant an exception for things made of food. :-) and not all side effects are severe, of course- if you don't take the whole bottle and/or drink heavily Tylenol is mostly harmless. And... well, I can't think of others off the top of MY head either. I guess 'dose large enough to POTENTIALLY have side effects' would be closer.

  3. Exceptions that prove the rule!

  4. My side effect from ginger for nausea was an inability to eat ginger for two years thereafter!

    1. Haha, me too, actually. Just the tea though. No problem with say, ginger in Chinese food or gingersnaps (which I did not partake of during pregnancy...).


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