Herbal Medicine, sometimes referred to as Herbalism or Botanical Medicine, is the use of herbs for their therapeutic or medicinal value.
An herb is a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, aromatic or savory qualities, producing and containing a variety of chemical substances that act upon the body.
Known to be the oldest form of health care known to mankind, herbs had been used by all cultures throughout history.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 25% of modern drugs used in the United States have been derived from plants:
Interest in medicinal herbs is on the rise again and the interest is primarily from the pharmaceutical industry, which is always looking for new drugs and more effective substances to treat diseases, for which there may be no or very few drugs available.
The word drug itself comes from the Swedish word "druug", which means dried plant. Some examples of widely used ingredients found in herbs include:
Most of the medicinal use of plants seems to have been developed over time through observations of wild animals and by trial and error, not through proper double-blind clinical trials.
Many consumers believe that herbal medicines are safe because they are natural. Which is not always the case:
Most herbalists concede that pharmaceuticals are more effective in emergency situations where time is of the essence, such as where a patient has elevated blood pressure that posing imminent danger.
However they claim that over the long term herbal medicine can help the patient resist disease and in addition provide nutrition and immunological support that pharmaceuticals lack.
Herbalists use extracts from parts of plants, such as the roots or leaves, not isolating particular phytochemicals, whereas pharmaceutical medicine prefers single ingredients on the grounds that dosage can be more easily quantified.
Hebalists reject the notion of a single active ingredient, arguing that the different phytochemicals present in many herbs will interact to enhance the therapeutic effects of the herb and dilute toxicity.Of course, just as with pharmaceutical medicine, herbal medicine produces some obviously good results and sometimes some very questionable results.
It is important to research any home remedies and seek out a qualified Herbalist to understand all the botanical benefits for each herb and usage.
Some examples of plants used as medicine are:
The goal of the herbalist is to release the volatile oils, antibiotics, aromatics, and other healing chemicals contained in the herbal medicine.
Herbs can be prepared in a variety of forms depending on their purpose. Such techniques include:
Interest in medicinal herbs is on the rise again and the interest is primarily from the pharmaceutical industry, which is always looking for "new drugs" and more effective substances to treat diseases, for which there may be no or very few drugs available. Considering the very long traditional use of herbal medicines and the large body of evidence of their effectiveness, one can only wonder why we are not generally encouraged to use traditional herbal medicine, instead of synthetic, incomplete copies of herbs, called drugs.
Is it that there's little or no money in herbs for the pharmaceutical companies?
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