Herbal medicine, also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine - refers to using a plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes.
Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside of conventional medicine. It is becoming more mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control along with advances in clinical research show the value of herbal medicine in the treating and preventing disease.
Plants had been used for medicinal purposes long before recorded history. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian papyrus writings describe medicinal uses for plants as early as 3,000 BC. Indigenous cul-tures (such as African and Native American) used herbs in their healing rituals, while others devel-oped traditional medical systems (such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine) in which herbal therapies were used. Researchers found that people in different parts of the world tended to use the same or similar plants for the same purposes.
Herbs contain a large number of naturally occurring chemicals that have biological activity and compounds from plants that are used to produce reliable pharmaceutical drugs. Herbalism does however support holistic treatment, with prevention of disease being as important as the treatment of a particular illness. Another benefit of choosing herbal medicines is that a profound transfor-mation in health can be achieved, without the danger of the inherent side effects common in drug-based medication.
Conditions which may benefit by herbal medicines include a wide range of minor ailments such as:
- Upset stomachs
- The common Cold and Flu
- Headaches, menstrual problems
- Sore muscles
- Skin rashes and so forth.
Other conditions that respond well to herbal remedies are digestive disorders such as:
- Peptic Ulcers
- Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Rheumatic and Arthritic Conditions
- Chronic skin problems such as Eczema and Psoriasis
- Anxiety and tension related stress
- Bronchitis and other respiratory conditions
- Hypertension and allergies.
An initial consultation with a western Herbalist, will take from 1 to 1 ½ hours and several follow up sessions are usually required. Herbal products are an important part of health care but self-prescription is not advisable, as even the safest herb can interact with other medications. A consul-tation with a professional Herbalist is recommended.