Natural herbal remedies vs synthetic pharmaceutical medications

When I work with clients, besides diet and lifestyle improvements, I often recommend herbal infusions (teas), and herbal tinctures, to help ease symptoms and resolve underlying conditions.

Below are some of the questions I sometimes get asked:

  • Is this herb dangerous?
  • Does this herb have any side effects?
  • Will this herb interact with my medication?

I always find it interesting, when people question the safety and efficacy of herbs, and I totally get it.

Herbal medicine has been labeled ineffective and sometimes even dangerous to health.

This is the subject of an ongoing campaign to discredit natural medicine that’s been in play on for a long time – since the 14th Century and the infamous witch hunts.

It was compounded in the early 20th Century by oil tycoon and American billionaire, John D. Rockefeller. He promoted the rise of big pharma and intentionally squashed any type of natural healing, holistic options, and herbal medicine. Through his efforts, natural (and herbal) medicine was labeled quackery and demonized, and doctors using it were jailed for practicing with it.[1]

It’s interesting how some billionaires are in the habit of doing awful things like that.

When the drive to make money (and the drive for power/control) overshadows human health and happiness, trouble ensues.

Let’s clear some of the confusion and get back to the facts about the use of these dangerous herbs.

Plants (roots, berries, leaves, seeds, bark) have been used as medicine for thousands of years. On the other hand, pharmaceutical medication is very young.

“In the early 19th century, when chemical analysis first became available, scientists began to extract and modify the active ingredients from plants. Later, chemists began making their own version of plant compounds and, over time, the use of herbal medicines declined in favor of drugs. Almost one fourth of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from botanicals.”[2]

Those pharmaceutical drugs are created using isolated compounds and are missing the wider combination of ingredients that naturally occur synergistically in the plants.

One of the reasons why herbal medicines have worked so well for thousands of years is because there is a harmonious reaction within the body when the plant is used with its naturally occurring ingredients and energetic healing properties… that includes the sunshine, air, rain and earth it’s exposed to.

To make this clearer, let’s take two different treatment options for one of the most common problems: acid reflux.

Western medicine generally prescribes proton pump inhibitors for the symptom called acid reflux. These medications decrease stomach acid and some side effects include[3]:

There are many, many more potential side effects from taking this medication, but you get the picture, right?

Another option for acid reflux, would be using an herbal medicine.

For example, a strong cup of chamomile tea.

According to, drinking chamomile tea is completely safe. You can drink up to 5 cups per day without experiencing negative side effects.[4]

Not only is it completely safe, but it is also linked with alleviating additional conditions:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Kidney, liver and bladder problems
  • Digestive trouble
  • Muscle spasms
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Skin irritations
  • Ulcers
  • Rheumatic pain
  • Hay fever
  • Inflammation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Colic

There seems to be much more benefit to drinking chamomile tea, than with taking a medication for acid reflux.

Another thing to consider is that as an herbalist and health coach, I wouldn’t recommend (prescribe) tea or any herbal medicine without encouraging the client to make diet and lifestyle adjustments to facilitate their whole body’s healing process.

And, I’m confident that the herbs I recommend won’t contribute to 33 (and more) negative side effects.

As far as the question I get asked about interactions between pharmaceutical medications and herbs? Yes, of course, there is!

Mostly, the herbs make the pharmaceutical medicine either more bio available, increasing the medicine’s effect, or less available, decreasing its effect. This can 100% be dangerous to health.

As you navigate the world of wellness, keep in mind that the death rate from pharmaceutical medication is very high:

“Around 100,000 people die every year due to the toxic effects of synthetic drugs whereas hospitalizations and deaths caused by herbal medicines are difficult to find.”[5]

Death by herbal medicine is difficult to find because herbs are gentle. But, just because it’s gentle doesn’t mean it’s ineffective.

Before we finish this article, here’s a financial statistic that would make John D. Rockefeller giggle in his grave – the proton pump inhibitor market brings in billions of dollars yearly. And, according to Yahoo finance, it should reach $5.64 billion by 2031.[6]

Wow! That’s a lotta profit.

Not to mention, the additional profit made from the negative side effects from those medications that also require medication.

How much does it cost for a few cups of chamomile tea with no negative side effects?

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m certainly NOT suggesting you do not use pharmaceutical medication when you need it. That would be irresponsible. And, they would probably throw me in jail for even suggesting something as sinister as a cup of tea instead of a synthetic medication.

What I am suggesting is that when your doctor prescribes a medication for a symptom that you are struggling with, simply ask him or her the same questions you would ask me:

  • Is this medication dangerous?
  • Does this medication have any side effects?
  • Will this medication interact with the herbs I am taking?

Listen to the answer with discernment.

I believe, asking the questions will give you insight and answers into making the best choice for the sake of your health.

Whether that choice is taking a synthetic pharmaceutical medication or a gentle herbal medicine – you’ll know.

Want more direction on how to understand what your body needs as medicine?

Check out my Health is Wealth Community for a delicious education in natural healing options to heal what’s ailing you without any negative side effects.