Thursday, January 20, 2011

What You Know About Herbal Medicine

What is Herbal Medicine?

Over thousands of years traditional ways of using plants medicinally have developed in different societies. Today the study of herbs has become a medical science and new ways of using plants therapeutically have been found such as the advent of nutraceuticals or aromatherapy and its essential oil.

Herbal Medicine, also known as phytotherapy, is the treatment of illnesses using measured doses of specific plants. A qualified medical herbalist can prescribe plants to be internally or used externally in various forms and concentration, depending on the ailment.

The herbalist may suggest the addition of certain edible plants to the diet - such as celery, radish or cabbage - or may prescribe a medicinal preparation, such as a suspension, powder, infusion, tincture or extract. The herbalist may also recommend an essential oil, distilled from the plant.

Conventional drug research tends to be focused on identifying a single active constituent in a plant and this approach has yielded a significant number of blockbusting drugs. Herbalist take a holistic approach believing that the whole of the plants should be used, because all the constituents are important, not just the compounds that have been shown to be active.

A herbal medicine consists of hundreds of phytochemicals - plant based compounds that herbalist believe interact in a 'synergistic' way. Together they achieve a greater effect than the sum of all their individual effects. An analogy can be made to music - we can appreciate that when single notes are playied together in a certain way they make up the pleasing sound of a chord. The pharmaceutical industry is still focused on producing 'single notes', while herbalist argue that the 'chords' found in herbal medicine are more effective.

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