What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine is the use of a plant's seeds, roots, bark, berries, leaves, or flowers for medicinal purposes, both in treating and preventing disease.
What is the History of Herbal Medicine?
Plants have been used medicinally for longer than recorded history. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian papyrus writings describe the use of plants in treating disease. Cultures all over the world use plants, some for healing rituals, others, such as Traditional Oriental Medicine and Ayurveda, have developed a medical system using herbs. Research has shown that people all over the world use the same or similar plants for the same purposes.
Chemical analysis began in the early 19th century and scientists began extracting and modifying active ingredients in plants. This led to the creation of chemical versions of plant compounds, eventually giving rise to modern prescription medications, which was given favor over herbal medicine.
The World Health Organizations estimates that 80% of people worldwide rely on herbs as part of their primary healthcare. Due to the rising cost of prescription medications, as well as an interest in returning to natural remedies, the use of herbal medicine in the United States is increasing.
How does Herbal Medicine Work?
Scientists are often unsure what specific ingredient from a plant treats illness. Using the whole plant contains many ingredients which work together to produce a beneficial effect. When using a whole plant, the active ingredient is in a much lower dosage, preventing adverse side effects.
How are Herbs Used?
Individual herbs are often combined into what is known as an herbal formula. Combining herbs produces a stronger effect in the body.
What can Herbal Medicine Treat?
Herbal medicine is used to treat many conditions, such as insomnia, asthma, skin conditions, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome. These are just a few examples of the many conditions that herbal medicine can treat!