Today many people are turning to alternative medicine rather than conventional medicine in a search for both a healthier option to prescription and over the counter drugs, and for an inexpensive means of health care. While some natural methods of health care can be as expensive as conventional ones, many of the options do promote a better way of healing the body. There are many people who swear by herbal remedies, and there are even some doctors who incorporate herbs with modern medicine. If you go into any health food store, no doubt you will find at least one aisle stocked with all kinds of herbs in boxes, bottles and loose in bins or bags. Your first encounter is most likely because you have a cold or flu. Maybe someone in the office suggested you take some Echinacea. On the other hand, maybe you have been having difficulty sleeping, and you remember reading somewhere that chamomile tea was good for getting rid of insomnia? The very first thing you need to do before taking any herbal remedy is to do your homework. By themselves and in certain doses, some herbs are beneficial. There are, however, herbs that should not be mixed together and herbs that should not be taken in more than the recommended amounts. One such herb is Ephedra, or Ma Huang. While this herb can be useful, far too many people abused it. More is not always better, especially with an herb like this. A few years ago, Ephedra was touted as the miracle herb, and quickly gained popularity in the gyms and with athletes. Ephedra boasted quick weight loss by increasing the metabolism and could help with respiratory problems. What people did not know was that Ephedra increases the body’s core temperature and is a very powerful stimulant, and in some cases, people have died from taking too much of this potent herb. Herbs do not offer an overnight cure. Where taking an aspirin or allergy pill will take merely hours to start to work, herbs often take up to three weeks to start working. Unlike conventional means, the substances in the herbs have to build up in the body before they can start to take effect. There are some herbs, like Seneca (a laxative), or ginger (a digestive aide) that will work within a few hours. There are some herbs that work more quickly than others. Chamomile, Kava-Kava and Valerian, which are all good for sleeplessness, will begin to work in a few hours. If you have an upset stomach or a case of car sickness, ginger will take care of that immediately. If Valerian sounds familiar, it should, this herb’s derivative is Valium. Although Valerian is not addictive it is still best to use it with care. As with all herbs, do your research first and remember it is best to err on the side of caution and treat all herbs with the respect and care they deserve.