What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal Medicine (also known as Herbalism) and the use of herbal remedies is, by far, the most widespread form of healing across the world. Every culture has developed its own herbal remedies, these being dependant on the local flora. The earliest known herbal remedies are thought to have originated in the Indian sub-continent, spreading north to what is now China, and west to the Middle East. The recent discovery, in the Alps, of a bronze-age man found herbal remedies in his belongings.
Every continent and every culture used herbal remedies, it is the oldest medicine known to man. It is as valid a medicine today as it has always been. Indeed, a vast number of today’s patent medicines are derived from this natural form of healing. It is known that the ancient Chinese were using camphor and ginseng as early as 2,700 BC and on the other side of the world, the Incas were using cocoa leaves as far back as 700 BC.
Origin of some of our modern drugs: –
- Morphine comes from the opium poppy.
- Digitoxin, used to regulate and stimulate the heart rhythm, comes from foxglove.
- Belladonna provides atropine, a treatment for Parkinson’s disease and also a heart stimulant.
- Vincristine, the cancer drug, comes from periwinkles.
All the major drug companies employ researchers to examine the components of plants in their search for new medicines.
Recent research in Germany has shown that St. John’s Wort was found to compare favourably to standard drugs in treating mild to moderate depression, with far fewer side-effects. It is also being investigated for use against HIV, herpes simplex, and influenza.
Pomegranate is being investigated for it’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
Comfrey teas, ointments and salves are used for the topical treatment of burns and skin irritation.