This has been stewing in my head for a while, but it probably will still come out wrong.
Is it because healthcare has become so expensive that it is out of the reach of middle America, nevermind our poor? Is it because the internet has put so much information at our fingertips that we are deluded into thinking that we know more than we do?
Since when did we all become doctors?
More and more, I am seeing perfectly intelligent people who are willing to risk their own health and the health of their loved ones while they play doctor. This scares the hell out of me.
I am a proponent of herbal medicine. I want to see the use of herbs as medicine grow and become a part of the integrated, holistic healing practice of our medical model. There are many self-limiting illnesses that could be helped herbally, keeping people out of doctors offices. There are many herbal treatments that can help with various diseases and illnesses - after a proper diagnosis has been made.
I've been around long enough to have seen several "miracle, cure-all, new, multi-level herbal remedies" come onto the market. Some of them died a natural death, and some of them went to court. The reason they even exist is because there are so many people who are willing to believe that such a thing is possible. And that's scary. Scary that there are people who want to rip others off with no regard to the possibility of killing them because they don't get decent care, and scary that there are people who take things on their own without doing any research, blindly accepting the hype.
There is something even scarier happening now, in my opinion. In the past several years there seem to be more and more people who are not bothering to find out what is wrong before they start treating themselves or their families. They do self-diagnosis, and self-medication. Strangers I've never set eyes on will write with questions on serious life-threatening illnesses, as if it is just fine to write to a random stranger for something that could alter or end their lives. Many of my herb friends have the same experiences. This is crazy!
10 years ago, when we had our shop, we often had customers who came in for herbs AFTER seeing a doctor, getting a diagnosis, and doing some research into their condition. They made INFORMED decisions, based on all of those factors. Others came in and asked us to diagnose them. We wouldn't do it. We aren't doctors, and we suggested that they see one.
So please folks, I implore you... Use herbs for first aid, for staying comfortable during a self-limiting illness, and to improve your health and immunity. But if you have a serious problem, or one that doesn't resolve with the use of herbs in a reasonable amount of time, see a doctor.
Using herbs irresponsibly is bad for everyone. It hurts the one using them, and it hurts the industry as a whole, possibly threatening the future use of herbs for all of us.