Easy Herbal Remedies

Herbalists & Doctors working together as described by Kathy McCabe and generated by OpenAI

As you know, I have a passion for herbalism. There’s something so gratifying about healing with plants and natural remedies. From chamomile tea for sleep to garlic and honey for colds, herbs have been my go-to for most minor health issues. But there’s a point where even the most die-hard herbalist like me has to acknowledge the limits of nature’s pharmacy and reach for the phone to call the doctor.

I have been sick with a fever, chills, and cough since May 26th. I believe it came about because of a beautifully – and freshly cleaned mouth after my dental cleaning (which still feels lovely by the way), and when I choked while drinking water on Friday the 27th. As everyone knows, hard coughing like when you’re choking can also cause regurgitation – which is what happened, and then, because I’m also still gasping for breath at this point, I accidentally aspirated some into my lungs. At least that’s what the doctor and I worked out from the chain of events. I had two points of bacterial entry, mouth, and lungs – double whammy. By Saturday, I was starting to feel chills and a low-grade fever.

By Sunday morning, I was in bed with coughing, fever, a monster headache, and chills, which was miserable but I wasn’t worried yet because I’d been taking my herbals and drinking teas the whole time. My temperature went up and down, and I was in a constant state of dampness from fever sweats. But if I could keep my fever down I felt I’d be ok.

By Thursday I knew that wasn’t true anymore. It wasn’t getting better, despite my best efforts with herbs. My fever spiked to over 103 and I called the doctor. I was prescribed a strong antibiotic – for the first time in years – and a cough medicine.

Now, on Day 11 of this odyssey, my fever broke two nights ago, I still have a cough, but it’s more productively removing the crap from my lungs, and I’ve lost seventeen pounds. It will be a long recovery but I’m grateful I knew it was time to stop relying only on my herbal cabinet and seek professional help.

With my story in mind, here are a few signs to watch out for, indicating it’s time to call the doctor:

  1. High or Persistent Fever: If you have a fever that lasts more than three days or is above 103°F (39.4°C), it’s a clear sign something more serious might be going on. Fevers are the body’s way of fighting infections, but prolonged or very high fevers can indicate a bacterial infection that might need antibiotics.
  2. Worsening Symptoms: When symptoms get worse instead of better. For example, if your cough starts producing green or yellow mucus, or if it becomes painful to breathe, it could mean a bacterial infection like bronchitis or pneumonia.
  3. Severe Pain: Intense pain that doesn’t respond to usual home remedies, whether it’s a severe sore throat, earache, or abdominal pain, is a red flag. Severe pain can indicate something more serious that needs medical attention.
  4. Prolonged Illness: If you’ve been sick for more than 10 days without improvement, it’s time to call the doctor. Whether it’s a sinus infection, urinary tract infection, or something else, prolonged illness often requires antibiotics.
  5. Red Streaks or Pus: For cuts or wounds, if you notice red streaks spreading from the wound, or if it’s oozing pus, it’s likely infected and needs antibiotics to prevent it from getting worse.
  6. Breathing Issues: Any trouble breathing, wheezing, or shortness of breath should be addressed immediately. These symptoms can be signs of serious conditions like asthma, pneumonia, or even an allergic reaction.

Knowing when to transition from herbal remedies to conventional medicine is crucial. It doesn’t mean you’re abandoning your herbalist principles; it means you’re being smart and safe about your health. There’s a reason antibiotics were developed – they save lives when used appropriately.

For further reading on when to use antibiotics, the Mayo Clinic has a great guide on antibiotic use and recognizing symptoms of serious infections. For a balanced view of integrating herbalism with conventional medicine, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) provides valuable insights.

Stay healthy, and remember, it’s okay to seek help beyond the herb garden when you need it.





  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Antibiotics: Are you misusing them? Retrieved from [Mayo Clinic](https://www.mayoclinic.org).
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). When to see a doctor for a cold or flu. Retrieved from [Mayo Clinic](https://www.mayoclinic.org).
  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (n.d.). Herbal Medicine. Retrieved from [NCCIH](https://www.nccih.nih.gov).

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