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How are herbs different from drugs?


Drugs are made of a single, isolated compound that is generally patented, manufactured and "owned" by a company. Herbs are made from plants, and generally cannot be owned by a company, since their original source is in nature and is freely available. Generally, drugs have been extensively researched at great cost over a number of years (the need to recoup that cost is why governments allow drug companies to patent their drugs).

An additional and very important difference is in the way they work in the body. Generally, drugs have a specific mode of action; that means that they work on a specific chemical reaction in the body. They also tend to have side effects; they stronger the drug the more likely they are to have significant side effects. Herbs may also have certain side effects, but since their method of action is much more gentle, commonly the side effects (if any) tend to be very mild and resolve quickly.

When drugs and herbs are taken together, the effects of that combination may sometimes be difficult to predict. For that reason it is very important that you discuss any drugs, herbs or vitamins you are taken either singly or as combinations, with your healthcare provider.

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