Herbal medicine, which is often called Herbalism or Botanical Medicine, is simply the use of herbs for medicinal or therapeutic purposes. An herb is considered a plant or part of a plant that is used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Believe it or not, the World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of the world population presently uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Herbal medicine is the oldest form of medicine known to humans, as herbs have been used through many cultures throughout history. In the past 20 years in the United States, public dissatisfaction with the cost of prescription medications, combined with an interest in returning to natural or organic remedies, has led to an increase in herbal medicine use (umm.edu). Many international studies have shown that plants are capable of treating disease and improving health, often without any significant side effects (betterhealth.gov).
The most common health problems that have been treated with herbal pharmaceuticals include:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Inflammatory Pain
along with many other diseases.
Terms commonly affiliated with Herbal Pharmaceuticals
The branch of knowledge concerned with medicinal drugs obtained from plants or other natural sources.
The study of the use of extracts of natural origin as medicines or health promoting agents.
Where can I find herbs?
Although not as commonly advertised as prescription medications, herbal medicine are available in most stores come in several different forms: teas, syrups, oils, liquid extracts, tinctures, and dry extracts (pills or capsules) (umm.edu).
How do I know what herbs are right for me?
Similar to prescriptions, herbal medicine has its own uses and effects. It is important to first speak with your doctor, or a specialist in the use of herbal medicine. Herbalists, chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, pharmacists, medical doctors, and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine all may use herbs to treat illness (umm.edu).
The American Herbalists Guild offers information and tools to find an expert in your area: http://www.americanherbalistguild.com/