“All herbs are safe; it is okay that I am on medicine from my doctor and still take these supplements.”These are statements that one may hear if they question the safety of herbs or herbal therapy. However, all herbs and herbal therapies may not be completely safe for everyone. So, before someone delves into those theories, perhaps it is best to understand what herbal medicine is.So, What Is Herbal Medicine?Herbal medicine is not just going to the pantry and shaking out some oregano and declaring you cured. Actually, it is based on ancient forms of healing. Our ancestors used what was found out in nature to heal and to prevent ailments. Native Americans truly believed and still believe that all we need in life, Mother Earth will provide; meaning, there is no need to take synthetic pills to cure. However, it is interesting that some synthetic drugs have been based on aspects of nature.Herbal ExamplesNot all herbs are created equally. Some herbs are not for human consumption. At least not the way they are presented in nature. Perhaps some of these have hidden properties, but they have not been discovered yet. It may be that they are only to be combined with certain properties to make them safe. That is one of the funny things about nature; you must never underestimate it and the powers that have yet to be uncovered. Some herbs are merely for spicing up that stew or to make your house smell better. However, some may truly have medicinal properties. A few examples of these herbs would be:Garlic – Garlic has been used in many Italian dishes, but it has shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.Peppermint – Not only useful as a breath freshener but it also helps reduce nausea and flatulence.Ginger root – Also helps with nausea, especially during morning sicknessOats & Oat Straw – These wonder herbs are full of calcium and magnesium so they help relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skinSafety ConcernsOnce upon a time, there was a thought that it was time to come up with standards for practical medicine and drugs. This was instilled to protect the general public from fraudulent drugs and doctors and hopefully protect them from further illness or even worse, death. It was not uncommon for a traveling “doctor” to come rolling into town with the new elixir that would cure everything from baldness to the intestinal disorder. However, many were later found to be nothing more than watered-down whiskey or a combination of herbs and extracts. These standards are met during the production of modern medical medicines, but are different when it comes to herbal medicines.The standardization of dosage and purity is not mandated in the United States. It is remarkable that products made with herbs to the same specifications may still be different because of the result of biochemical variations in the plant. Plants have chemical defense mechanisms against predators that may have lethal effects in humans. A couple of examples would be poison hemlock and nightshade; this is why these herbs are not available on the market. A couple of other cases of negative herb use include liver failure due to black cohosh and chronic licorice ingestion, which has led to major potassium depletion.Humans Could Be The Ones To Blame ForOnce again, this could be a case that we are our own worst enemy. Some humans tend to jump into things without doing the research beforehand, and there are cases with herbal medicine that seem to follow suit. Some patients will be taking medicine prescribed by their doctor that will lower blood pressure but then read an article that claims that a certain herb has been proven to do the same. They think it would be great to double up with both before consulting their doctor or herbalist and ingest both. This can result in dangerously low blood pressure, which can be just as harmful as high blood pressure. It is known that some herbs and certain fruits interrupt with the cytochrome, which is vital in drug metabolism.There are arguments on both sides of this issue. Herbal medicine seems to become more and more popular with not only followers of alternative medicine but also with those who want to enhance their present lifestyle. Herbal medicine continues to prove safe and effective under proper use, and could be even more so if patients can bridge the gap between their modern medical practitioner and their desire to understand and hopefully benefit from herbal medicine.
If you are anything like me, then you have probably been working with the same type of workout now for quite awhile. Sure you may have changed up an exercise here and there but it is still basically the same old routine. How about changing it up even more by adding in a medicine ball? Some people have heard of, or have used one but there may be many that have not. This article will show how this simple ball can be a very key piece of your workout when you are trying to lose weight by exercising or even if you are just trying to stay in your current shape. Let’s now outline how you can utilize these medicine balls to kick start your workouts back into fast forward allowing you to start to once again see the training results you once did.A Medicine Ball?For those folks that have not had the luxury of being able to use medicine balls, the following will serve as a brief explanation of what they are and how they can be effectively used. Another term that you may hear when dealing with medicine balls is exercise balls. They are for all intents and purposes the same thing. The power of these balls are that they come in different weights and also in different diameters. Each one could potentially have different uses (more on that later). These balls are typically not made for bouncing. Medicine balls are typically covered in some type of vinyl, leather or nylon cloth and will usually be filled with gel, sand or lead shot (depending on the weights required). The outside surface is very similar to that of a basketball, in that it is quite dimpled. This dimpling helps you maintain grip on the ball when your hands start to sweat. So as previously mentioned, these balls come in different weights. As you become more accustomed to using them in your workout, you will want to keep increasing their weights so that you get the maximum workout possible. Think of the weights as you would a barbell or dumbbell, as your body gets used to one weight you want to increase it to move past your bodies plateau.So I can hear your inner voice saying, but I already have dumbbells and barbells. Why would I need to get medicine balls as well? So if you are hoping to build up your core set of muscles or if you are looking to remove a few inches from your waistline, then medicine ball exercises are the perfect one’s for you. So I can hear you saying that you can’t see how strengthening your core will help you with your weight loss ventures. To put it simply, you need a strong core to reduce the likelihood of injuries from almost any other activity that you do. Your core muscles help to control the movement of your upper and lower torso. Bike riding for longer distances and boxing are two activities that require a strong core.Medicine Ball ExercisesAs with any exercise routine, you must make sure that you are fully warmed up as the additional weight of the medicine ball could potentially cause injury to cold muscles. Try modifying some of your current workout routines by adding in medicine ball variations. Let’s take the common sit-up as an example. While these may be difficult for some people as is, let’s now add a medicine ball into the mix. Pick up your medicine ball and hold it against your chest as you move your upper torso back and forth. Nothing like a bit of extra weight for you to have to move with your abdominals. This modification will make these exercises tougher but the results will be worth it. If these are too tough at first, try adding them in to every other workout until your body starts to get used to them. These modification exercises are great ways to lose weight by exercising.So let’s look at other types of exercises that could involve the medicine ball. These workouts are going to require another person to help you out. Get the other person to throw you the ball, but instead of catching it only using your hands, try and catch it and cradle it at the same time using your abdominal muscles (i.e. your stomach). This is a double benefit exercise. When you are tossing the ball you will need to use your core muscles, but when catching it your abdominals are the muscles at work. You can also use the medicine ball to help you perform some deeper stretching. Stretch as you normally would, but hold onto the ball so that weight helps you get deeper into the move. Besides allowing you to stretch farther, the extra weight will also be working on your stabilizer muscles.So as you can see, a medicine ball can be used in quite a few different ways. These few examples were for illustration purposes only. There are many more types of exercises that could also be used. The longer you use these balls the stronger your core will become. A proper diet will also have a big impact on you if one of your goals is to lose weight by exercising. Want to get the results that you have been dreaming of; use the medicine ball.