Herbal Immunosuppressants and remedies have been used since ancient times. They have been the treatment for multiple diseases with other health related benefits.
Since herbal medicines and remedies are natural and organic, thus the effective nature of these poses little to no side effects. There is a constant tussle between the prescribed conventional medicine and the herbal medicinal treatments that have worked for centuries.
Science has reasonably progressed and found treatments for diseases that were not treatable before. Yet many studies tend to draw out the side effects of such drugs and medicines that may cure one disease but pose threats to the overall body functioning. So even with one solution, there are various side effects that come with conventional medicine.
Conventional medicine refers to “A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery.” It is also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine, and Western medicine.
With the number of drugs and their interlinked side effects, there is more interest being developed towards the organic and natural treatments. Synthetically produced medicines are put into question too. Although this may be called a sweeping generalization, but the “purity” and organic nature of different products is something people are now becoming aware of before use.
Before we weigh out the possible positive or negative impacts of herbal immunosuppressants in comparison with conventional medicine, we will first understand the term employed here to clarify what they really are.
What are Immunosuppressants?
Immunosuppressants are basically agents that serve for partial or complete suppression of an individual’s immune response. Often times, when a foreign agent or particle enters the body or bloodstream, immune system is activated and antibodies are released against the foreign particle. The immunity acts as body’s defense mechanism to get rid of such agents. So even if we introduce a medicine that is supposed to heal the body, chances are that its effect can be nullified by the immune reaction.
“Immunosuppressants are used to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ and to treat autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.” For such cases, immunosuppressants are introduced into the body. They help to partially or completely suppress the immune response. This way, the treatment can be carried out without being useless with the antibody “defense” response.
Immunosuppressants are not limited. They are found and employed in both herbal and conventional medicine.
Positive effects of herbal immunosuppressants:
There are various positive effects associated with herbal immunosuppressants. Some of them are listed below:
- Natural and organic: Herbal medicines have natural sources, derived from herbs and plants. This means that there are no additives or fillers included in it for further enhancement.
- Beneficial healing properties: There are multiple health benefits along with the treatment of a specific disease. Herbal medicines and immunosuppressants naturally provide the body with nature’s best cure. They may regulate sleep cycle, lessen chronic pains and aches, etc.
- Less expensive than prescription drugs: Herbal medicines are derived from natural components which means the synthetic procedures are not employed in their manufacture. They are available in potent extracts and concentrations.
- No synthetic chemicals: Drugs manufactured synthetically have added chemicals that are threatening to the body in multiple capabilities. They may cure one disease but may pose risks to eyesight, liver and kidney function, etc.
Negative Impacts of herbal immunosuppressants:
No substance is sure-shot said to work. Every drug, whether herbal or conventional, comes with its own risks and benefits. We cannot look at only one side of the picture.
So some of the negative impacts and possible side effects herbal immunosuppressants are listed below:
- Potential toxicity: Whole herbs’ mixtures sometimes pose the risk of potential toxicity as there is no filtration or purifying procedure employed when being extracted from herbs or plants. This can introduce harmful chemicals or toxins in the body which can prove quite fatal.
- May Lack proper usage directions: Due to lack of proper usage instructions, unlike prescription or conventional drugs, anybody can use these herbal extracts or medicines on their own. The irregularity in consumption and dosage may result in possible side effects.
- Standardized reference: Herbal immunosuppressants or medicines may not have any standardized reference. This means that they may not be FDA approved for usage, which carries health risks. Extracts may not be in standard quantities or quality, which is a sort of gamble when it comes to health.
- May not have any quality control: Even though the herbal medicines are natural and organic, they do not have standardized references or quality check controls employed. This may not be the case for all, but a possible lack of quality control is harmful for the consumer.
- Polypharmacy in herbal treatment: Many herbs are sometimes mixed together as the sum of them is said to work more effectively than the individual benefit of one herb. This polypharmacy method is usually avoided in conventional medicine as not all substances are beneficial for a particular disease.
- Can cause allergic reactions: The most common problem found with herbal medicines is the adverse reaction like allergies from a particular substance and its usage. These allergic reactions can further pose health risk for the user of herbal immunosuppressants.
Buffering is both a benefit and side effect. Neutralizing effect by buffering can be beneficial for control and limit over bases and acids. But isolating active ingredients in herbal medicines may risk toxicity too.
Are Herbal Immunosuppressants safer and more helpful?
A study on herbal medicines and their possible risk factors states that “…the major perception for the use of herbal drugs is that “they are safe because they are natural and have fewer side effects than prescription drugs”.
Often, herbs may be used together because the combination is more effective and may have fewer side effects. However, various studies have highlighted their possible side effects, if taken irregularly, in excessive amounts or in combination with some medicines (Stickel et al. 2005). Interaction between drugs and herbs can cause undesired effects.”
Thus, we cannot exactly limit herbal immunosuppressants as either safer or more helpful due to the possible risk factors involved. It actually depends on the type of medical ailment of the patient that may demand a herbal or conventional treatment. Obviously, stage 4 cancer may not necessarily be fixed by a herbal immunosuppressant.
We can talk about possibilities and experiments. There is still room for extensive research and study on both kinds of medicine – herbal and conventional. It depends on the patient ultimately for what treatment suits him/her best.