Herbal remedies are more popular now than they have been for a while. For a long time, people put their faith in chemical medicines created in a lab, but mounting side effects and a desire to return to greener, cleaner living has more people seeking natural cures for their ailments and health maintenance.

But what happens when you're taking your herbal remedies and they're not working? Does that mean the skeptics are right and all this herbal nonsense is bunk?

Not necessarily. Consider these potential problems when your herbs seem to be letting you down.


One of the most common reasons that herbal remedies fail-- or worse, cause health issues-- is because they are used improperly. Usually, this is because of a misdiagnosis of an illness. This problem tends to happen when people try to diagnose their own illnesses and then attempt to treat themselves with over the counter herbal products, or create their own remedies out of the garden.

Just because herbs are natural does not mean they are 100% safe, or 100% effective.

For example, ginger is often recommended by lay people for an upset stomach. This is true, unless the nature of the stomach discomfort is an ulcer. Ginger is known to aggravate stomach ulcers. A simple misdiagnosis of your stomach problem could be made worse by taking ginger.

Herbs have biochemical properties. They're no less complex than chemical drugs. You need to diagnose the right issue, as well as choose the right combination of ingredients for the cure. This is why you should not treat yourself or anyone else with herbs unless you've had some training. If you have not had training, you should be working with a health care specialist that is qualified to administer herbs medicinally.

Poor Quality Herbs

You get what you pay for, and with herbs this simple fact of life holds up. The shelf life of different herbs can vary, but any herb can be rendered virtually ineffective if it's been in a container long enough. This is true of supermarket herbs, herbal teas as well as herbs encapsulated in pills.

You particularly have to be careful when dealing with health shops that sell dried herbs in large jars or containers on shelves, in which they scoop, weigh and package the ‘fresh’ product for you right in front of you. They will often tell you it’s so much better than buying pre-packaged herbs in a box. The truth is though, most of these places get their herbs in bulk form. It an take a long while for those merchants to dig down to the bottom of those canisters. Depending on how busy the shop is and how popular the herb is, canisters that are less than half full could conceivably have been sitting on the shelf for a year.

Poor quality products will not make you worse, but will certainly do nothing to make you better. It’s best to buy herbs from reputable companies. Pay attention to expiration dates as well when they’re sitting on your shelves at home.

Expecting Miracles

Sometimes people start herbal treatments and expect too much too soon, then find themselves disappointed when they’re not feeling better right away. Herbs are generally more subtle than chemicals, and they have a cumulative effect. It really depends on the condition, the type of herb and the dose.

You should monitor yourself whenever you begin a new herbal treatment and note how quickly or slowly the herbs are taking effect on you. This is good information to give to your herbalist or alternative health care provider so that a balance that is best for you can be struck with your treatment.

Just because herbs are natural does not mean they are 100% safe, or 100% effective. They are certainly a good option, but it’s important to take a number of factors into consideration before starting any treatments.