“Proving”: Overusing an Herbal Remedy or Medication

Sometimes a person may find that, after prolonged use of a medicine or herbal remedy, they experience perhaps some of the very symptoms they are trying to resolve. The case may be that the remedy resolves the issue — let’s say joint stiffness and aching — but upon sustained use the symptoms may appear to return. Why does this happen, and what are the consequences?

herbal remedies

Herbal Medicine

Very few health practitioners understand the actual implications of taking an oral medication or remedy. The body responds with a mighty jolt to a “foreign invader,” sending a cascade of nerve impulses throughout the body’s systems. The body must begin a process of metabolic extraction and assimilation of elemental phytonutrients in the plant, and a process of elimination of toxins and cellular waste as the remedy works with symptoms and causes. But there is a hitch.

“Proving” the Medicine

It is a Pharmacological Law that every natural and pharmaceutical medicine’s primary side effect is also its primary action. This means that the symptoms a remedy will fix, it will also cause, if taken too long.

herbal-remedies quoteThe medical term “Proving” (a central concept in Homeopathy) suggests that the longer you use a medicine, the more the symptoms will begin to appear as a result of the “proving of the medicine,” even if you only took the medicine at a low dosage. This means that an herbal remedy or formula, for example, may be optimal for health restoration of an injury or condition, but eventually a point is reached where optimal correction is complete and you should discontinue the remedy.

The process of “proving” has been used in medicine for hundreds of years. At its core, it is homeopathic, meaning researchers give repeated small (homeopathic) doses to healthy research volunteers who consume the remedy over a period of time. Their thoughts, feelings, dreams and habits are then recorded in what is often termed the “Materia Medica” (from the Latin meaning “collected body of knowledge”) and analyzed. By “proving” a remedy in this way, homeopathic practitioners know that the symptoms that the medicine will cause in a healthy person, it will fix in a sick person with those same symptoms.


Cautions for Overuse

Unfortunately, many people believe if their symptoms are getting worse, then they should take more of their medication, especially if it is an over-the-counter remedy for pain relief, or even an herbal remedy (They may even believe that the remedy does not work anymore). By taking more dosage, many people’s symptoms may go from bad to worse, and their liver especially suffers from increased toxicity.

The reason is that by continuing a remedy beyond the point of it being needed by your body, you go through the optimal correction and out the other side, thereby “proving the remedy or drug.” The resulting “drug-induced” symptoms are the very predictable side effects so familiar in the pharmaceutical world.

We are all humored that most drug commercials and advertisements discuss more of the side effects than actual benefits. For example, the primary side effects of the antidepressants Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa and others are . . . depression, severe depression, and suicidal tendencies! Insomnia medications such as Lunesta, Ambien, and others have increased sleeplessness as a side effect with sustained use. The common pain-reliever, Hydrocodone, has increased pain as a side effect. The anti-seizure medication, Neurotin, and others caution against increased seizures with continued use.

Herbal remedies are not without caution either. For example, although Echinacea is useful for quick flu-relief, it can also cause flu-like symptoms if taken too long. Solomon’ Seal, if taken too long, may tighten connective tissue tensions a little too much past normal, creating short-term stiffness in the finger joints. The homeopathic remedy Rhus Toxicodendron is excellent for joint pain and skin rashes, but can actually cause these if taken too long.

food-as-medicineA little known fact about the Law of Pharmacology is that drug-induced symptoms from proving the drug often remain after discontinuing the drug. People who have been on various types of medications for a long time often experience and suffer from drug-induced symptoms, but due to the fact that these symptoms match their original symptoms, they think their symptoms are from their illness. This is especially true when the medication is only working to suppress the symptoms.

Remember, if you must continue to take a drug or remedy in order to feel good, then it is not reaching the cause of the symptoms. If you can identify and reach the level of cause, then you should be able to discontinue the remedy when the cause has been eliminated. Of course, there are situations where the body has been damaged beyond repair and symptom-suppressing medications are all that are left for the person. True healing never seeks to mask symptoms, since that would defeat the whole point of healing.

herbal-remedies kitchen


Tips for Using ORAL Herbal Remedies

Those people new to herbal remedies often wonder how long they must take the remedy. They wonder if they have to take it a long time to get relief or healing. The short answer is NO. In fact, the benign nature of oral tinctures allows room for experimentation — amount of dose, when to take, and when to take time off. A well-prepared tincture from a reputable and knowledgeable herbalist or company is invaluable and can last a long time in one’s medicine cabinet, being used as needed. Here are some tips for taking an oral remedy such as a tincture:

  • Always obtain a remedy from a reputable herbal remedy supplier. Especially review the integrity of educational information on their website, blog, Facebook or other social media. Obtain customer reviews.
  • Insure that your remedy has all organic ingredients, including the use of distilled or pure water in preparation, if used.
  • Follow the dosage guidelines on the label. These are safe ranges.
  • For increased safety, initially take only ½ of dosage for one week; then gradually increase — this may help the body assimilate the herbs better.
  • Take for 6 days, and then take one day off, increasing to 2 days off when feeling right. The day off allows the body a day of “rest” to flush out toxins and cellular debris from healing. It also prevents the body from becoming dependent upon the remedy.
  • The objective is to gain an intuitive relationship with your remedy: after time knowing when to take and how much to take, and when to rest from use.
  • Always keep your remedy handy for flare-ups or re-injury.
  • Most herbal remedies are very safe; taking a few additional drops to experiment is okay
  • If you experience the same symptoms you are trying to deal with, after prolonged use, simply stop the remedy for a few days or more and begin again with a much smaller dose. Then gradually increase the number of drops over 1-2 weeks to suggested or “intuitive” (i.e. your own sense of amount) doses.


Please visit our website for detailed and fascinating information about the therapeutic use of tinctures, salves, lotions, tea, and sprays: www.solomonsseal.net



This entry was posted in Uncategorized by C. Forrest McDowell, PhD. Bookmark the permalink.

About C. Forrest McDowell, PhD

I am blessed to be a co-steward for over 30 years of the beautiful 22-acre Cortesia Sanctuary outside Eugene, Oregon, with my partner, Tricia Clark-McDowell. My lifelong interests in wellness care, psychology, nature, music composition & performance, writing, and meditation fuel my celebration for life. My form of service is founded upon the elemental practice of kindness and reverence for life. Of course, to understand the value of deep respect for life, we also have to accept irreverence as part of human nature and to know that it can be very disruptive and destructive to peace, safety, beauty, joy and love.

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