Herbal healing, as a medicine, uses plants and plant extracts in various forms to boost our body systems, addressing any imbalances and ailments.
The use of plants for medicines around the world still vastly exceeds the use of modern synthetic medicines and, even in our modern world, nearly three quarters of all medicine taken will be herbal in origin. Many plants contain substances that have therapeutic properties, including many of the herbs and spices we eat in our food.
Herbal Medicine, Herbal Healing, or Herbalism has its roots in the traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts and written records have the Chinese and Greeks using herbs for medicinal purposes 3000 years ago. The Herbal Medicine we see today traces its origins back to 1864 when the National Institute of Medical Herbalists was formed.
Herbs are used in a variety of ways: –
- Herbal extracts.
- Infusion (steeping the dried herb in boiling water) and this is drunk as a tea.
- Used topically (on the skin), when it is added to a neutral base such as lanolin, vegetable oil or aqueous cream.
Many of the modern pharmacological medicines owe a lot to the active ingredient of traditional herbs that have been extracted or synthesized. However, Herbal Medicine is at variance with this, as the art of prescribing herbs will often include a mediating action within the herbs to prevent the body over reacting. In 2001, researchers identified 122 compounds used in mainstream medicine that were derived from “ethnomedical” plant sources; 80% of these compounds were used in the same or related manner as the traditional use.
An example of this is, the now taken for granted aspirin…………
- 400 BC – The Greek physician Hippocrates discovers that the bark and leaves of the willow tree (rich in a substance called salicin) can be used to relieve pain and fever.
- 1826 – The German chemist, Johann Andreas Buchner experiments with salicin and creates salicylic acid (SA).
- 1897 – Chemist, Felix Hoffmann, at Bayer in Germany, chemically synthesizes a stable form of ASA. The compound later becomes the active ingredient in aspirin named – “a” from acetyl, “spir” from the spirea plant (which yields salicin) and “in,” a common suffix for medications.
- 1899 – Bayer distributes aspirin powder to physicians to give to their patients. Aspirin is soon the number one drug worldwide.
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Further information on Herbal Medicine including case studies, etc.
- The National Institute of Medical Herbalists
- What is Herbalism?
- EU herb directive keeps consumers in the dark
- Herbal Medicine
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