Herbal Medicine is the oldest form of health care known to mankind. Herbs have been used in all cultures and form an integral part of modern civilisation. Cave men studied the effects on animals when they ate certain plants and through trial and error each tribe will have added the medicinal powers of herbs to their own knowledge base. They systematically collected information on plants and herbs and developed well defined pharmacopoeias.
In the 20th century much has been learned from the herbal lore of native peoples and much of the scientific medicine has been derived from this lore. Many of the drugs used today are derived from plant material in fact about 25% of the prescription drugs issued today in the US contain at less one ingredient that has been derived from plant material. For example the powdered leaf of the foxglove plant is known as the cardiac stimulant digitalis which keeps millions of heart patients alive worldwide. St Johns Wort has become very popular as an alternative to Prozac, without the side effects, to help with mild depression.
The World Health Organisation noted that of about 120 plant-dervived pharmaceutical medicines around 74% are used in modern medicine in ways that directly correlate to their traditional uses by native cultures. Extensive research is currently being carried out by major pharmaceutical companies on plant material collected from rainforests and other places to test their medicinal value.
Many people are starting to turn more and more to herbal cures for what ails them. The over prescription of antibiotics has left us with a legacy of “superbugs” on which modern medicine has little effect at times. Can herbal remedies help? Only time will tell if the “superbugs” are too much for natural cures.
It should be noted that care should be taken when dealing with herbal remedies and that too much can result in side effects. Any herbal supplements should also be obtained from a reputable source.