Herbal medicines are prepared from a variety of
plant materials -- leaves, stems, roots, bark and so on. They usually
contain many biologically active ingredients and are used to treat a
variety of conditions, both acute and chronic. At least a quarter of all
conventional pharmaceuticals originated from plant materials. These plant
materials were purified to create commercial drug products, consistent in
quality and dose. However, the majority of herbs have few scientific
studies to support health claims made about them. Much research will be
forthcoming in the next several years.
Preparing and Using Herbs
Herbs can be prepared at home in many ways, using either fresh or dried
ingredients. Herbal teas can be made as infusions and decoctions.
Infusions are made by steeping the herb in water. For decoctions, the herb
is put in water and boiled down to a stronger solution. Roots, bark, or
other plant parts can be boiled into decoctions. Honey or sugar can be
added to infusions and decoctions to make syrups.
In stores, herbal remedies can be purchased in
the form of pills, capsules or powders, or in more concentrated liquid
forms called extracts and tinctures. Herbs can be applied topically in
creams or ointments, soaked into cloths and used as compresses, or applied
directly to the skin as poultices.
Across the spectrum of alternative medicine, the
use of herbs is varied: Naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese
medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine all differ in how diseases are diagnosed
and which herbal remedies are prescribed.
Before You Start
If you are considering using an herbal remedy, talk with your health care
provider to find out what's known about its safety and effectiveness and
how it might impact your health. Also, keep these considerations in mind:
|“Natural” doesn't necessarily mean “safe.”
Some herbs can be toxic or carcinogenic -- even deadly. For instance,
the herb ephedra, also known as ma huang, has been linked to deaths, and
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limited the amount of
ephedra that herbal remedies can contain. To ensure your safety, all
herbs should be used under the guidance of a health care practitioner
familiar with herbal medicine.|
|Some herbs can interact dangerously with
over-the-counter or prescription medications. For instance, ginkgo
biloba can thin blood. If you already take medication that thins blood,
adding this herb to your regimen may be dangerous. Make sure your health
care provider knows about all medications and herbal remedies you use or
|Don't forgo or delay conventional treatment
that's been proven effective in order to focus on an herbal “cure” that
hasn't been tested. The FDA does not regulate herbal remedies in the
same ways it regulates medications, so be wary of claims made by herbal
remedy manufacturers. Learn more about regulation of herbal remedies.|
|Choose your brand of herbs wisely. Different
brands differ in the quality of their product. There have been reports
of contaminants, mislabeling and inconsistent strengths.|
|It's especially important that pregnant or
breastfeeding women, people with chronic illnesses, the elderly, and
youths under the age of 18 check with their health care providers before
starting herbal therapy. |
Regulation of Herbal Remedies
In the United States today, herbal remedies are not regulated in the same
ways that medications are regulated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has classified herbal remedies as “dietary supplements.” Vitamin and
mineral supplements fall into this category, too. As a result of this
classification, the FDA does not regulate these substances nor provide
oversight to evaluate safety and effectiveness.
Drugs must undergo studies that reveal their
effectiveness, safety, interactions with other substances and appropriate
dosage levels before they receive FDA approval. The FDA does not require
or review such studies for dietary supplements.
Evaluating Manufacturers' Claims
The FDA also does not evaluate claims made by the manufacturer about an
herbal remedy's powers. But the agency does restrict the types of claims
that herbal remedy manufacturers can make. For instance, claims cannot
legally be made that an herbal remedy can diagnose, treat, cure, or
prevent any disease.
However, manufacturers can make claims that a
substance has a certain effect on the body's structure or function (for
instance, that calcium helps build bones). And, with FDA approval, claims
can be made that there's a link between a substance and a disease (for
instance, that folic acid is linked to decreased risk of certain birth
What Does This Mean for Me?
The FDA's approach to herbal remedies does not necessarily mean that
herbal remedies are unsafe or ineffective. It does mean that when you buy
and use herbal remedies you can't be as sure about what you're getting or
what it may do as when you buy regulated medications, either over the
counter or by prescription.
For instance, herbal remedies come in
unpredictable strengths; the amount of the active ingredients varies
greatly depending on whether more than one species of the herb is used,
and how and when the herb is gathered and prepared. The FDA also has found
that some manufacturers do not always test their ingredients to make sure
the herbs they received from suppliers are what they ordered or are free
from contaminants. Some herbal products have been found to contain toxic
heavy metals (such as lead), most likely because the products were
prepared by boiling herbs in clay or metal pots. Also, some herbal
products may contain ingredients that are not listed on the product's
The Body of Research Grows
Unfortunately for the millions of Americans who use dietary supplements,
reliable scientific research and reliable regulation has not kept pace
with these products' popularity. However, research is growing, and more
physicians are recognizing that herbal remedies or other alternative
therapies may be useful complements to conventional medicine. Many medical
schools now teach courses about alternative treatments, including the use
Herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine
The use of herbs, along with acupuncture and acupressure, is a major
component of traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM. Doctors of traditional
Chinese medicine usually practice under the title "licensed" or
"certified" acupuncturist; they prescribe herbal combinations according to
complex rules of diagnosis, which are intended to help the body correct
imbalances of energies. In TCM, ailments are believed to be caused by
disturbances in the flow of a type of energy called chi, or by a lack of
balance in the complementary states of yin (characterized by darkness and
quiet) and yang (characterized by light and activity).
Chinese herbs, like other TCM remedies (such as
minerals and animal products), can be prepared in numerous ways: steeped
in hot water to make a tea or infusion; boiled to produce a stronger
solution called a decoction; used to make powders, pills or syrups that
may be taken internally; and fashioned into plasters or poultices applied
to the skin. Treatments should be prescribed and monitored by a trained
practitioner because some Chinese herbs can be toxic in large doses;
others, such as safflower flowers, should be used with caution during
pregnancy. Complex mixtures should be formulated only by a trained
In recent years, Chinese herbal medicine has been
subjected to increasingly rigorous study in China, the United States and
elsewhere. The evidence indicates that although some remedies do not
perform as claimed, others are effective. In China today, herbal remedies
often are prescribed along with modern biomedical treatments.
FATFREE: The Low Fat Vegetarian Archive
This site provides tons of strict low fat vegetarian recipes. You
can search the archive, check out newly submitted recipes and access
the USDA nutrient database. It also offers some interaction by
allowing users to submit recipes for posting.
This is a general food site, but check out the Virtual Cookbook for
The Gourmet Underground
Another great resource page with many vegetarian links, gourmet food
links, and everything having to do with food in general!
Vegetarian Kitchen with Nava Atlas
Visit Nava Atlas' virtual vegetarian kitchen to select recipes from
Everyday Fare to Seasonal Pleasures. In between she provides recipes
for special occasions and holidays and discussions of current topics
relevant to vegetarian cooking.
This site serves to educate people of the power of living and raw
foods. It provides background information, recipes, articles,
message boards, chat, resources, a marketplace and a search engine.
The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY is one of the oldest
vegetarian restaurants in the United States. Their site has free
vegetarian recipes, online ordering for their cookbooks, and
information about their consulting work and cooking lessons.
Notes on the World of Healthy Cooking
This site is developed by the authors of the "Companion Guide to
Healthy Cooking: A Practical Introduction to Natural Ingredients."
As is the goal of the book, the site also provides information and
how-to's about using healthy ingredients. Here you'll find really
useful information on Changing Your Diet and Kitchen Tips as well as
an Ingredient Guide.
A great resource for vegan recipes and
cooking ideas, images are included with every recipe. I love
this site, and have found tons of awesome recipes along with great
photos of the dishes. Well Done!!
International Vegetarian Union
In 1908 this non-profit organization replaced the Vegetarian Federal
Union originally established in 1889. Their goal is to bring
together vegetarian societies from all parts of the world. The site
features articles, recipes, famous vegetarians, vegetarian phrases
in many languages, and international events. There are also
discussion and news forums.
American Vegetarian Society
This non-profit educational organization works to promote the
health, nutritional, environmental and compassionate benefits of a
meatless diet. They organize the annual
PLH Insurance is an independent, environmentally concerned,
insurance agency. Our Good Karma Program donates 1% of insurance
premiums to worthy causes like Peace Action and PETA.
Learn more about vegetarian interests in your local area, or a place
to which you are moving, going to college, or traveling. You can
also join area-specific vegetarian mailing lists to keep up-to-date
on all vegetarian issues, as well as read reviews on vegetarian
restaurants, stores, and events.
A non-profit educational organization based in Berkeley, California,
Vegan Action has set up a site that caters to vegans. It's chockfull
of information, including the latest issue of Vegan News, a
catalog of t-shirts, stickers, 'zines, and cookbooks, and
information on joining the latest vegan campaign.
This site offers lots of information and links regarding all facets
of vegetarianism. They are hosted by VegSource and are Internet
partners with the International Vegetarian Union.
This is an organization that works to end animal exploitation by
promoting a vegan lifestyle. Their main activity is distributing a
booklet called, Why Vegan? which goes beyond the simple definition
of veganism by showing individuals how to better the world through
the daily choices they make. The site also provides essays,
newsletters, resources and links.
This charitable organization is located in the U.K. and stands to
promote "ways of living which avoid the use of animal products - for
the benefit of people, animals and the environment." It is a great
source for travel tips in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. You
can also find links to other vegan sites, products, books,
information sheets and news.
Vegetarian Society UK
This is the location of the Vegetarian Society of the United
Kingdom, which is celebrating it's 150th year. Information found
here includes, new vegetarian, recipes, health and nutrition, local
directory, animal rights, books, and lots more. A very comprehensive
site overall, with a lot of information for vegetarians, young and
old, new and experienced.
Vegetarian Union of North America
This site in the home of the Vegetarian Union of North America,
which promotes the vegetarian movement in Canada and the U.S. Use
VUNA's on-line resources and links to many other vegetarian sites on
the World Wide Web.
The Vegetarian Youth Network
The Vegetarian Youth Network is a grass-roots organization run
entirely for and by teenagers who support vegetarian living. The
group sponsors a help line for information, products, and
directories of information.
VivaVegie Society is a vegetarian advocacy group which was formed in
1991 and serves as an educational organization for the cause of
vegetarianism. They have published over 40,000 copies of "101
Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" which has served as "the mighty
convincer." Check out the site for more information on this, their
newsletter and to see Penelo Pea Pod.
Veg For LIfe
An information source to guide newcomers through the conversion to
veg eating and living. Also ideal for long-time veggies who are
unaware of the cruelties involved in dairy, eggs and clothing
The Crazy Vegetarian
This is a really neat site for vegetarians, vegans and "wannabe's."
Here you can find recipes, facts, links, news and events, and a
bookstore. It's fun and easy to move around in as well as providing
a lot of useful information.
Directory of Vegetarian/ Vegan Dietitians- Doctors- Nutritionists-
Pharmacists- Veterinarians (and other health care professionals)
EATVEG.COM is dedicated to educating people on why an organic
plant-based diet is best for personal health, the animals and the
earth. This site was created and is maintained by
EATVEG.COM and Raw advocates a cholesterol-free (vegan) diet with a
strong emphasis on organic
The purpose of the famous vegetarians site is to demonstrate how
widespread vegetarianism is becoming around the world. Showing the
great number of vegetarians who are famous shows how many people are
becoming educated and realizing that it is the sensible way to live.
Not simply that you should be a vegetarian because someone famous is
one. The site is meant to be informative and educational. Plus it's
fun to see all the people who you might not have known were
This is of specific interest to entry-level vegetarians. This
virtual compendium of vegetarian information and sources, allows you
to look up "How to be a Vegetarian in 10 Easy Steps," how to cope
with Vegan Dating Dilemmas, the lyrics to "Meat is Murder" by
Morissey, and All in the Vegan Family (one family's story of living
This is an e-mail list that is devoted to the discussion of natural
and social science topics that relate to vegetarianism. These topics
include food science, health, economic, history and many more.
A Scottish vegan family offer help and advice to those interested in
veganism and related subjects - recipes, parenting, books, quotes,
links and a message board too.
Vegan Parenting Online
Expansive vegan parenting site with a vegan family database, Expert
Panel, original articles, message board, why vegan stories, vegan
pregnancy, and a lot more!
The Vegetarian Circle
This site was put up by an individual to promote vegetarianism and
advocate animal rights. It offers a community showcase for people to
express their thoughts, views and beliefs on vegetarianism, as well
as the opportunity to share their own veg stories. It also offers
vegetarian recipes and a pen-pal group. There are no fees required,
only a desire or commitment to vegetarianism, animal rights and an
This site intends to "be a definitive guide to what is available on
the Internet for vegetarians, vegans, and others." Many links to
vegetarian resources are found here.
The Vegetarian Resource Center
The VRC helps vegetarians link up with others in their area by
finding the closest vegetarian group or by helping individuals
organize one. Check out this page to inquire online about how to do
this, find out more about the Vegetarian Resource Center, link to
discussion groups and other veg-related sites on the Internet.
An extensive site with information on vegetarianism in a
nutshell--the basic facts and how to become vegetarian. There are
also lists of vegetarian literature and teaching materials, recipes
and vegetarian-foods replacements. Check out the vegetarian search
engine and feedback page for comments. Other topics include feeding
vegan-kids, a guide to non-leather goods, a lesson plan for
teachers, vegetarian-friendly investing, and vegetarians
on-line--links to finding vegetarian stuff on AOL, CompuServe, MSN,
& other service providers.
Vegetarian, vegan, and animal rights discussion forums, directory of
local veg / Animal Rights groups and resources on the WWW, and the
latest veg / AR news headlines.
Celebration of the veg lifestyle.
This site is a great source of vegetarian information on the web.
You can find over 230 of the tastiest vegetarian and vegan recipes,
UK vegetarian restaurant guide, facts and nutritional information -
and lots more.
A guide to online vegetarianism, including a number of bulletin
boards on topics from animal rights to parenting. There is also
information available on meal planning, composting and book reviews.
This site provides a lot of interaction for users. There are over a
dozen message boards to choose from, an online magazine and recipes.
The Citrus Grater
The Citrus Grater easily and safely grates lemons and oranges,
removing only the outermost zest where the essential oils reside!
Here at Frugal Franks, we offer a COMPLETE LINE of PROFESSIONAL
QUALITY cookware, cutlery, and specialty items designed to meet the
needs of the most DEMANDING, but FRUGAL chefs at home. If you have a
PASSION for cooking, and you are looking for the same HEAVY DUTY
QUALITY equipment used in most of today's TOP NOTCH restaurant
kitchens, then YOU'VE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE!
Alternative Farming System Information Center
This information center is one of several in the USDA's National
Agricultural Library. It provides information related to alternative
farming including sustainable, organic, low-input, biodynamic and
regenerative agriculture. The web site features a search engine to
locate articles, links to related sites and a page currently under
construction where information related to current topics will be
This online source to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration includes
topics such as news, foods, human drugs, animal drugs and
cosmetics--all of which have relevant applications to vegetarians
and green thinkers alike.
The National Arbor Day Foundation
Arbor Day is April 24th and is celebrating 125 years this year.
Check out this site to learn more about Arbor Day, see how you can
help and get free trees.
A personalised nutritional consultation from a member of the British
Association of Nutritional Therapists is available from this site.
Whatever your health problems, nutritional therapy may help. You
will be given diet and supplement plans and ongoing support from a
real nutritionist, not a computer.
Health Center Homeopathy
Everything you ever wanted to know about homeopathy is brought to
you by this homeopathy center in Boulder, CO. You'll find
homeopathic counseling information, herbal formulas and links to
other homeopathic health services, seminars and classes.
Alternative Health News Online
This site is a great starting point to find information on
alternative medicine. The providers of the site say, "As
journalists, we wish to provide you with news and information that
will keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings in this rapidly
growing field." Come here for links and a search for valuable health
Holistic Health Association
The AHHA is a nationally recognized information resource serving the
general public. This non-profit organization promotes a holistic
approach to health and wellness through literature, lectures,
resource lists and the media. Go here to find a searchable database
of practitioners, local groups and as well as an educational booklet
Ask Dr. Weil
Here's a really user-friendly site, hosted by the doctor himself.
Read up on all the questions fellow surfers have asked in the
Archive or submit your own. There's a searchable database for home
remedies and you can participate in several bulletin boards.
Hot Springs Spa
A Place For Vegetarian Vacations in
Mexico. Pictures and information for vegetarian travelers.
Rio Calienté is one of the few modern spas that offers a
regenerative holiday -- reuniting the visitor with all that's
natural -- from its volcanic hot springs through fresh food and
energy-building exercise, to simple resting -- all at the discretion
of its guests..
Health World Online offers a storehouse of health-related
information. Begin by visiting the HealthWorld Village, where you
can select one of a dozen places to visit. From Home Health and
Self-Care to the Wellness Center to the Library, much information is
available on all that's happening in the healthy lifestyle arena.
MedAccess strives to be the premiere provider of health and wellness
information on the Internet. Their goal is to give the user
knowledge that can be used throughout life. Here you'll find lots of
info related to healthy living. Try the MedAccess Motivator, an
interactive personalized journal that will help you in set health
and wellness goals and then track your progress. Also available here
is a newsletter, quizzes, workbooks and articles along with
databases of hospitals, specialty treatment centers, physicians, and
Tahitian Noni(R) Juice - The potent
Tropical Fruit that helps your body heal itself. Doctors
Treasure Coast Heath - A Health and
Fitness Portal for the Treasure Coast of Florida.
Dr. Gary Sinclair's wonderful self help site, and free self help
book download on topics such as: alternative health, complimentary
medicine, holistic healing, empowerment, self-help, free book,
speaker, training, MS, pain, CFS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia,
SelfGrowth.com is the most complete guide to information about Self
-Improvement, Personal Growth and Self Help on the Internet. It is
designed to be an organized directory, with articles and references
to thousands of other Web Sites on the World Wide Web.
SelfImprovementNewsletters.com provides one of the most complete
collections of Free Newsletters for Self Improvement and Personal
Growth on the internet. You can receive Free articles, book reviews,
motivational quotes and more on topics ranging from Goal Setting, to
Time Management, to Stress Management to Health and Fitness.
American Botanical Council
The American Botanical Council is a nonprofit, educational and
research organization whose site is a resource for all things
herbal: books, tours, programs, links and information about the
Commission E monographs, translations of German medical briefs that
document the safe use of herbal medicine.
Brightstar Farm (featuring Animals as Teachers and Healers)
Author Susan Chernak McElroy has written about our connection with
animals and this site serves as a "virtual community for those eager
to explore the bond between us and the "others"---animals--- more
deeply." Here you can share your stories of experiences with
animals. And, you can also find out where you can see Susan Chernak
McElroy speak and how to get books and tapes.
The Cosmic Home Page
This page is offered by an individual and provides vegetarian links
as well as yoga, Taoism and Zen sites. Plenty of writings and
literature can also be found here.
Directory of U.S. and Canadian Food Cooperatives
Looking for information on food co-ops? This page will explain it
all to you and give you locations of dozens of co-ops around the
U.S. and Canada.
Dedicated to teaching how to live your life green, the site features
a national guide to ecologically sound restaurants (the list
includes many vegetarian places). Other highlights are daily
eco-news, a business-to-business directory, and a guide to
environmentally safe products.
A hi-quality food image library and food photographic studio.
Purchase mouth-watering images on-line or commission a studio shoot
to your requirements.
Food Coops and Other Coop Resources
This page will provide listing of co-ops across the U.S., and also
offers information on other countries. In addition, if you want to
create a website for your co-op, you can find help here.
Fun With Feng Shui!
This site gives a comprehensive look at Feng Shui from its origins
to its practical application around your home and environment. Come
here to get the basics and get started on your own designs. There
are tons of graphics, which are great for illustration, but the site
is a little slow so be prepared to spend some time.
This comprehensive site is sponsored by the Herb Growing and
Marketing Network and proclaims "everything herbal can be found
here!" If you're looking for information on herbs, herb products and
remedies and herb publications this is for you. You can also find
out how to get seeds, the names of herb associations and where you
can take classes. This site is updated on the first and third
Mondays of each month
Nature's General Store
This site is fun and interactive. It provides a menu of choices,
including chat rooms and the recipe exchange. You can also find
general information on aromatherapy, herbology and vitamins as well
as a health-library search.
This promotes a healthier lifestyle through better nutrition and is
not specifically vegetarian. It's basically a store front for
mail-order products, but it has a lot of links to recipes and other
valuable vegetarian information.
This site is hosted by Carole Dickman (see Vegetarian Times Dec. 97
issue). She's a certified yoga instructor and on this page she
offers 21 stretches that you can incorporate into your daily routine
as well as stretches submitted by users. For fun, there are photos
of pets stretching, too! Check out this site for simple moves to use
Natural hemp apparel and accessories made in Vermont.
- Know Wear hemp, located in Burlington, VT is
committed to U.S. production & employing from within the
The Dawn Animal World News/media Watch
This website is meant to serve as a resource on animal issues, but
even more as a base for the newsletter. The newsletter provides
information about current animal issues in the media, and gives
email links to the publication or station involved. Thus in just a
few seconds, with one click, you can have your voice heard on an
A U.S.-based organization which operates animal sanctuaries in New
York and California and wages campaigns to stop the exploitation of
animals raised for food.
We are the premier vegetarian singles
and vegan singles dating service. Find singles personal ads,
pen-pals and matchmaking -- sponsored by GreenPeople (www.greenpeople.org).
We have ongoing association with 100s of vegetarian, vegan,
macrobiotic, raw food, animal protection and environmental
organizations. Veggiedate is more than just a vegetarian
dating service. Make friends or pen-pals and share your knowledge
about vegetarian recipes, meet at a vegetarian restaurant and enjoy
the vegetarian lifestyle. Our site also has vegetarian information
on health and dating tips.