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Are Natural and Herbal Products Bad for your Health?

November 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Lifestyle, Top Picks

organic foodHere at TGF we endorse the natural and organic way of life. When it comes to looking after our health we are a little more cautious. Complementary therapies and alternative medicines have become increasingly popular over the years, with practices such as yoga, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies often being prescribed by NHS practitioners alongside conventional treatment.

Medical compensation against GPs is on the rise in the UK, with many people losing faith in their local surgery and turning to complementary medicine. However, according to statistics, about half of GPs in the UK now provide access to forms of therapy outside conventional medicine.

Do you know exactly what the difference is between conventional and complementary and alternative medicines and therapies? Basically, conventional therapies are usually prescribed by a doctor and are based on scientifically-proven evidence from clinical studies. Complementary therapies refer to treatments that you take in addition to conventional medications, whilst alternative medicine is something that replaces conventional medical treatment.

There is definitely a place for alternative medicine and complementary therapies as opposed to conventional medicine in the pursuit of good health and wellbeing; but caution should be practiced when diagnosing and prescribing for oneself, a friend or loved one.

When combined with traditional treatment, complementary therapies such as hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, chiropractors, osteopathy and acupuncture can enhance the quality of life, in many cases reducing emotional stress and tension. However, natural supplements should be taken with care, as in many cases they have been proven to react with prescribed medication, triggering side effects and exacerbating health problems. A little known fact is that taking popular natural supplements such as feverfew, ginkgo or ginger can cause dangerous side effects when taken with energy drinks or nutritional bars.

Before resorting to taking supplements why not try implementing a health regime into your daily lifestyle. Walking is a great way to get fit, and one of the easiest ways to get your body moving. A daily walk is all that is needed to improve muscle tone, build bone density and increase your fitness level.  Start with 10 minutes a day, and build up to 30 minutes. Walking is simple, and above all, free.

Of course, it goes without saying that a good diet is key when it comes to maintaining optimum health. A well-balanced diet that includes a good supply of carbohydrates, especially high-fibre foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables, some protein, low-fat dairy products and plenty of fluid is best. Interestingly, on average, adults in the UK eat too much saturated fat, sugar and salt, and not enough dietary fibre. You’re probably fed up with hearing about eating the recommended 5 a day servings of fruit and vegetables, but it is probably the most important element of any healthy eating plan, so rather than resort to dietary supplements, add more fruit and vegetables into your life.

Remember, the rule of thumb is to always consult your doctor, GP or consultant before taking herbs, vitamins or dietary supplements. Natural does not always equal safe, and in the case of herbal products, care should always be taken.


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