Herbal medicine can be defined as the use of herbs for the medicinal or therapeutic values. The parts used vary from plant to plant but can include the plants seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flowers. Herbal medicine, which has been around longer than conventional medicine, is becoming a mainstream alternative. Almost 80% of the world population today uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care according to the World Health Organization. The popularity of herbal medicine has made some doctors today decide to use a combination of both conventional and alternative medicine to treat their patients ailments.
Alternative medicine through the ages
Herbs have been used throughout history, even before records of their use existed. This fact has been proven during archaeological digs where human bones were found with herbs carefully tucked around them. Practically every culture has used herbs to heal various ailments, from physical to psychological. Many of the drugs that are available today are of herbal origin. An estimated 25% of the prescription drugs that are currently dispensed in the United States contain at least one active ingredient that has been derived from plant material. When plant extracts are not used in drugs there is a good chance that at least one ingredient has been chemically synthesized to mimic the properties of natural plant compounds. Modern medicine is so intertwined with herbal medicine that using the two together just makes sense.
Farm grown herbs are favored over wild-crafted herbs, which are herbs that grow naturally without human intervention, because farm grown herbs can be certified organic. With herbs that grow wild there is no way to know if the herbs have been sprayed with chemicals or other contaminants. Once the decision has been made between wild-crafted and farm raised herbs, the next decision is choosing what form of herbs suits your needs the best. The main forms that herbs are available in are fresh, dried, tablets, capsules and bottled as a liquid. The quality of the herbs is more important than the form the herbs are in. The higher quality the herbs are, the more potent the medicinal values will be.
The role of herbal medicine today
There is no doubt that alternative medicine is gaining popularity today. The role that traditional medicine typically plays is being changed as more people look for a natural approach to healing. It is easier today than ever before to find health care providers that use both alternative and traditional treatments. This makes it possible for people who want to use a combination of herbal medicine and prescription drugs to get sound advice from their medical care provider.