Herbal products are everywhere. You can find herbal lip balm, salves, lotions, soaps, shampoos, supplements, tinctures, teas... many may even be at your local grocery store. For most herbal products, you don't need to worry about safety. If you develop an itch after using an herbal shampoo, it is easy to figure out that maybe that particular herb isn't for you and to stop using it. The same with salves, lotions and soaps. They are pretty safe unless you happen to have a reaction to the particular herb that is in the product.
When you are talking about herbal products that you ingest, however, it is a different story. It is much more important to do your homework when using supplements, tinctures, teas and other herbal products that actually enter your body. Don't rely on little pamphlets or sales articles... read a few herbal books to really learn what herbs can and cannot do for you. Finding a reputable company that manufactures quality products, or alternatively finding a local herbalist who puts all their knowledge and skill into making a product just for you makes all the difference in the world when you are taking herbal products.
Before you begin taking herbal products, be sure that they won't interact with any other medications that you are already taking. You can ask your doctor about that. Some herbs will thin your blood; others will thicken them, for example. If you are one of the many people who need blood thinners to manage an existing health problem, adding either one will not only skew your numbers, but may be life-threatening.
If you are taking herbal products to address an illness, you may also want to be sure about your diagnosis so you're getting the right herbal product for your problem. You may want a product to fight bad breath, for instance, and then a visit to your doctor reveals the bad breath is being caused by a sinus infection. Obviously, a sinus infection would require a different product than bad breath.
If you find that the herb of choice for your condition can be found fresh at a grocery store or farmer's market, try it fresh instead. Fresh herbs have not lost any of their healing qualities to the stresses of the processing they must undergo to become a tablet, a tincture or a powder.
If you do decide on a processed herbal product, either for convenience or because the ingredients are not those found in your local supermarket, follow the directions and dosages carefully. More is not better. Herbs are nature's version of drugs, and in larger quantities they may have side effects just like an overdose of pharmaceutical drugs will cause problems.
In conclusion, remember that products can be used both as prevention and as therapy for an existing problem. Knowing the reasons you want to use herbs will help you choose the right products once you've found a reputable company. Make sure that the herbs you want to use won't cause interaction problems with existing medications that you need to take. It is imperative to follow the directions to use herbal products safely, so read the label.