What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine is the oldest and still the most widely used system of medicine in the world today. It is medicine made exclusively from plants. It is used in all societies and is common to all cultures.
There are many different “types” of herbal medicine that spring from different cultures around the world. All these have the use of medicinal plants in common, but they vary in the plants they use, the way they prepare and use medicines from these plants, and the philosophy of their treatment approaches. Different cultures may also use the same plants but differ in how it is used, or the part they use.
In Australia the most commonly found cultural types of herbal medicine are Western, Aboriginal, Chinese and Ayurvedic (Indian), although there are also many other cultures represented in Australia that utilise their own unique and traditional herbal treatments.
Using plants as medicine provides significant advantages for treating many conditions. The therapeutic activity of a plant is due to its complex chemical nature with different parts of the plant providing certain therapeutic effects.
Herbal medicines are an example of the perfection that nature has given us to survive.
Pharmaceuticals are an example of mans desire to replicate and improve upon what nature has given us.
Herbal medicines work with the body while pharmaceuticals tend to try and modify a physical condition. Either method of treatment has its plusses and minuses although many feel that herbal medicines are an intended medicine while pharmaceuticals are a means to control a natural system that needs to work with the natural rhythms of nature. In either event, mankind has yet to find every possible herbal remedy or pharmaceutical method to cure every possible ailment so a balance is often struck at a level that is comfortable for each individual. For herbal remedies there are several aspects that draw people to them. Each is individual in nature but generally fall into several categories.
There for the taking
Herbal remedies are available wherever you look. They are found in the water we drink and in the plants we grow. The popularity of herbal remedies has not necessarily arisen but has rather been rediscovered as people see that their own personal nutrition has quite a bit to do with their health. This concept may appear to be a new idea but it is not. People have simply gotten away from the concept that you are what you eat. The combination of foods and herbs available to people has not diminished, past the destruction of natural plant habitat, but has been forgotten. The Amazon rain forest is perhaps the world’s largest drug store with every possible cure to every possible ailment. People just have awakened to the realization that it is there for the taking if it is not destroyed first.
Centuries of history
Pharmaceuticals have been in use, from a modern perspective, for a relatively short period of time. Pharmaceuticals from a historical point of view have been in use since before man. Combining herbs and other items for medicinal use is essentially pharmacology on a natural level. Indian tribes across the centuries have been using herbal medicines and, in many instances, fund solutions to vexing modern health issues that Pharmaceutical companies have not. In many respects, herbal remedies are far more advanced then modern pharmaceutical remedies.
Works with the body
Many people have come to the realization that many herbal remedy users have know for ages. Pharmaceutical products deal with curing the symptoms rather than dealing with the underline health issue itself. Using herbal remedies finds a way to tap the natural body rhythms that make every part of the body work together. The body is a combination of individual parts that need to work as a whole. Treating an individual part cannot work completely if the whole body system is not considered. This is one of the many reasons that herbal solutions are favored over manufactured ones.
Pharmaceutical companies see value
Most users of herbal products do not discount the value of pharmaceutical companies and their search for products that can help with a particular health issue. Likewise, the pharmaceutical companies do not discount the value of herbal opportunities. They, in fact find a majority of their products from the base ingredients of the herbal remedies themselves.
As prescription drug costs in the United States continue to escalate out of control many people that cannot afford their cost are turning to herbal remedies. This is not all that surprising as many, if not most, of the pharmaceutical products being offered today are derived from the elements of the herbal products themselves.
In many instances people tend to think that “modern” science has the answers to everything. In reality “modern” science has the answers to very few health related issues. Herbal remedies are in much the same straights as the pharmaceutical companies but they are actually quite a bit ahead of them in many respects. Many of the herbal remedies that are in use today do not address every issue although they may, people have just either forgotten the remedy or not found it yet.
Gives hope to dire circumstance
There are many health issues where people do not receive answers about solving their personal health needs because there does not appear to be an answer. Pharmaceutical companies often make themselves out to know all, when in fact they know very little. Herbal remedies give hope to many in critical situations because many herbal remedies work wonders and nobody is quite sure why.
So Why Natural Healing?
Studies show that over half the population of the United States will use some form of alternative medicine this year. Tens of thousands of people rely on herbs instead of drugs when they feel ill. What is causing this trend? What has changed in the last 40 years that has so many people turning from their doctors and drugs to herbology and other forms of alternative medicine?
MEDICAL MISTAKES: In a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine it is estimated that one million patients nationwide are injured yearly by errors during hospital treatment and 120,000 people die as a result (NEJM, Leape et. al 1991 Vol 325 (3):210).
DANGEROUS DRUGS: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that an estimated 100,000 people die every year due to correctly prescribed medications. Every drug has side effects, some of them are very lethal (JAMA Leape et. al July 5, 2000 Vol284:95).
HERBS ARE SAFE: For thousands of years, herbs have been used to treat and prevent disease. In that time, very few adverse reactions have been reported. When adverse reactions do occur, they are usually the result of a mixture of herbs and pharmaceutical drugs.
LOOK TO THE CAUSE: In order to effectively deal with health problems, herbalists look to the cause of disease instead of just the symptoms.
HERBS WORK: Natural healers throughout history have witnessed the healing power of herbs. The School of Natural Healing has received thousands of letters and calls from people delighted with the results of herbal remedies.
In many respects, the herbal remedy may just be playing on the power of the brain and suggestion, but that in of itself may be one of the more powerful medicines that herbs offer. The power of positive thought.