Part of knowing what to do is knowing what not to do. And part of knowing what herb to use is knowing what herbs not to use. Makes sense, right?
So before jumping into the big intimidating world of herbs I want to talk about contraindications. What is a contraindication you ask? MedicineNet defines it as “A condition which makes a particular treatment or procedure potentially inadvisable.”
It would be awesome if I provided a list of every herb & every contraindication, side effect, or possible drug interaction for each one, but 1. I have yet to find anything even close to this and 2. I am going to encourage you to do something that will be even more helpful because it will be tailored perfectly for you by you! This is a homeschool after all, and if there is anything homeschoolers like, it is empowering students to learn and make connections for themselves.
I want you to take a few minutes to begin your herbal contraindication cheat sheet. The goal will be a handy, nicely organized list that includes any medical condition you have, any medications you are taking, and any supplements you are taking, along with every herb that is contraindicated for each one. That’s a LOT of information to have all in one place, and it does not need to be finished in a day, a month, or even a year. Rather, start slowly and add herbs gradually as you research them. Obviously, just don’t take anything until you have researched it thoroughly!
To begin . . . Check out my Contraindications Worksheet
1. Print the worksheet, grab a sheet of paper, your herb research notebook, a new note on your phone, or a fresh document on your computer. Remember to leave plenty if space to write as you make your initial list.
2. List each of your health problems or concerns, including things like anxiety, tendency toward depression, seasonal allergies, etc. Consider which plants/ fruits & veggies you are allergic too because there is a chance you could have a negative reaction to an herb in the same family. Also, don’t forget to note pregnancy and breastfeeding! Because we don’t use any sort of birth control and trust the Lord to give us children in his time, I have chosen to choose which herbs I take as if I am always pregnant, even if I know confidently that I am not. This eliminates any concerns of accidentally using something that could cause birth defects or miscarriage super early in the pregnancy.
3. List every medication you are taking along with your go-to over the counter medicines like asprin, benadryl, etc.
4. List which supplements you are taking already, and what dosage you take. Include herbs if you begin taking them daily for maintenance.
5. Research to your heart’s content! You may want to just note the herb, or you may want to add a note about why you should avoid it. Personally, I add a note about why because otherwise I would forget the reason. Also, I am skeptical by nature and would be questioning my previous notes if they did not include an explanation. As you research individual herbs, I would also not the contraindications there so you have all applicable information about that herb in one place.
I have just begun this and it is already extremely helpful. Before I began researching which essential oils I wanted to begin my collection with, I quickly looked up which oils to avoid for pregnancy and my couple health issues. Then, as I looked at different blends, I could easily compare the ingredients to my list and eliminate the ones that would be harmful to me before I got too excited about them.
This would be an excellent thing to do either for or with everyone in your family who may be affected by your herb use, especially if you are diffusing oils.
Enjoy learning and growing as you consider what NOT to use so you can more confidently utilize the herbs that will offer the greatest benefits.