In years past, natural medicine gained the reputation of being somewhat “hokey,” what with the advent of modern medicines and newer technologies. However, in recent years, more and more people are returning to the use of natural remedies for various ailments.
While it is always recommended that you go see a doctor for a professional opinion and diagnosis, there are many alternative treatments available that your doctor might recommend.
Are these methods as effective as conventional methods? Sure, sometimes.
For example, herbal infusions made with valerian root are just as potent as over the counter sleeping pills in many cases. In this case, the effects of valerian root are well documented and proven by science.
Another widely accepted remedy is white willow bark, which contains both anti-septic properties used to treat acne and pain-relieving properties similar to aspirin.
There are some remedies that science has not proven at all, yet many people still use them. They include arnica for bruising and pain, ginseng for a plethora of different ailments, and echinacea for immune support and to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms.
In most of these cases, while science cannot prove that they cure or even help with specific conditions, an attitude of “it can’t hurt to try” often applies. Many times a placebo effect occurs, where the beneficial results are largely psychological.
It should also be mentioned that natural remedies can still be dangerous, even though they are "natural." Everything comes from nature in some form or other, since matter can neither be created nor destroyed. There are many remedies, such as belladonna, that can be incredibly dangerous when care is not taken.
When it comes down to it, though, whether to use a natural medicine really is a matter of choice. It depends largely on what you are comfortable with trying.
Again, always consult with a doctor before taking anything, especially anything not specifically labeled for medicinal purposes.
Alfablue, August 2012