The use of extracts from herbs and plants for therapeutic reasons is known as Herbal Medicine. Not everyone knows that most of the plants produce certain chemical substances that help in treating certain health and physical disorders. Besides medicines, herbs are also used for various other reasons such as to flavor food, improve taste, in skin care products, soaps, ointments, potpourris and many other such areas. They are even used with various livestock and pets. It is one of the oldest forms of health care systems and plays a major role in development of modern medicines as well.
In the ancient past, people made use of the flora available around them as modern medicine as we know it was unheard of at that time. According to a research conducted by World Health Organization, more than 80 percent of the people around the world continue to depend on herbal medicine for treating various ailments. Almost 75 percent of the drugs manufactured these days comprise of a minimum of one botanical element. For example, a herb known as ephedrine was used in the Chinese Tradition Medicine to cure respiratory disorders. This component continues to be an important ingredient in the manufacture of commercial drugs used for treating asthma symptoms.
There are basically 3 schools of thoughts in Herbal Medicines. These include, Western Herbal Medicine, Chinese Traditional Medicine and Ayurvedic Herbalism. Herbal medicine is most importantly holistic as it not only treats a particular system, but rejuvenates the entire body as well as mind. Some of the well known herbs used in herbal medicine include hawthorne berries, Echinacea and St John’s Wort. Hawthorne berries are used in the process of recovery after minor health failure, Echinacea is used to treat cold whereas St John’s Wort is used for the treatment of mild depression.
Herbal medicine has been prevalent for more than a hundred years and has much lower side effects in comparison to synthetic medicines. Due to this, it continues to be ever so popular amongst the people. They are also much more tolerant due to its natural constituents which are effective for a longer period of time. However, this doesn’t mean that all herbs are safe and can be taken without thinking. Herbal medicines should be treated with a lot of caution and respect as they can also have harmful effects if used inappropriately. However, the negative effect or adverse reaction of herbal medicines is much less grave than the synthetic medicines. The human body is also able to metabolize natural products much easily as opposed to synthetic drugs which are difficult to metabolize. Due to this, synthetic drugs often lead to various health products and have dangerous side effects as well.
Since the profession of a medical herbalist is poorly regulated in most countries, if often become difficult to find a qualified herbal medical professional. Always make sure that the herbalist you are seeing belong to the professional association of herbalists. Many countries such as USA, Australia, Canada and Europe have their own professional associations where you will be able to find qualified and reputed medical herbalists. Take care while choosing your medical herbalist as your wellbeing and health depends on them.