Monday, 15 July 2019

Basic Concept of Herbal Medicine

Basic Concept of Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine is the Traditional Medicine of all cultures and still accounts for three-quarters of the remedies used throughout the world today. Although the principles and practice of Herbal Medicine had been largely dismissed in the west in the last several centuries, studies are increasingly supporting their age-old uses as well as discovering new properties and applications for them. The recent interest in herbs and their constituents is the result of awareness of iatrogenic diseases; side effects of allopathic medicine; the resistance that has developed to over-used antimicrobial; and the search for new and better medicines.

This article is a series of monographs of some of the most commonly used herbs in Western Herbal Medicine. They have been arranged in a format similar to Dioscorides’ original text, De Materia Medica written about 2000 years ago, but in a modern framework that also presents a summary of the knowledge that has accumulated in recent years for the herbs and/or their constituents.

Each (Herbal Medicine) herb is presented with:-

  • Plant name and picture
  • Parts used
  • Actions
  • Pharmacy
  • Interaction with Drugs
  • Botanical description
  • Active constituents
  • Scientific information
  • Precaution and/or Safety
  • Historical uses
  • Habitat and geographical location
  • Nutritional constituents
  • Medicinal uses
  • Contraindications

Unfortunately not all monographs contain information in all these areas for whilst a great deal is known about a few herbs, like Panax ginseng and Hypericum perforatum, for others virtually no research exists or what there is maybe many decades old and based on using scientific tools that lack today's level of reliability.

Also included in this text is information on scheduled or restricted herbs. These have been included for information only as many countries do not allow their general use and in some cases do not allow herbalists to use them.

Scientific information (both positive and negative) from reputable journals and texts has been compiled, without personal evaluation, with the aim of providing an understanding of the scope of activity and mechanisms, as far as they are known, for each herb. Scientific methods used and conclusions drawn from this data should be assessed bearing in mind that the goals of modern science are not necessarily in harmony with the tenets of Herbal Medicine and the hypotheses being tested may be at odds with the herbs’ traditional use.

Moreover, the aim of phytotherapy is not to simply treat symptoms or conditions, by suppressing biochemical reactions, and herbalists should not rely solely on this science to guide their application of these unique and complex healing agents. Their actions and effectiveness have been gleaned and refined over many thousands of years of practical use which is one of the soundest ways to evaluate their medicinal value for human health. At the same time, science can provide us with important scientific information as well as ensure our method of practice is safe as well as appropriate.

Information on the botany, growing, and harvesting of herbs has been provided by Gillian Painter so that those who are keen gardeners can plant and work directly with fresh herbs and the various preparations that can be manufactured from them.

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