Herbal medicines are substances derived from plants and occur naturally. They are used to treat illnesses and are often a combination of organic chemicals that are sourced from any raw or processed part of a plant. Every culture around the world has used herbal medicine and today, it accounts for a quarter of all the drugs prescribed world-wide. World Health Organization has a list comprising of 252 essential medicines and 11 percent of these drugs are made exclusively from plants. The first known pharmacological compound, morphine was created 200 years ago from pops seeds of the poppy plant and since then, research has been ongoing on how plants can be used to create pharmaceutical products. The healthcare system is, however, facing the threat of overmedication from inorganic compounds. Humans have developed resistance to these drugs because most drugs treat the illness and not the cause of the disease. For this reason, there is growing need of natural and herbal medicines.
Governments are investing in promising medicinal herbs and although the amount being channeled is not as substantial when compared to the overall pharmaceutical industry, it is still a leap in the right direction for researchers and scientists aiming at alternative and natural forms of treatment.
Some of the well-known systems of herbal medicine are the Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Aryuvedic Medicine which both believe in the central idea of focusing on health as opposed to the illness. These systems use healing herbs that enable people to thrive in terms of their health and they can focus on their overall well-being and stop agonizing on a particular ailment. These herbal treatment systems aim at achieving equilibrium between the mind, body and the environment.
Benefits of herbal medicines
- They are more affordable than conventional medicines
Modern medicine is quite expensive and more people can comfortably afford herbal medicines as compared to conventional treatment. Natural health products used in post-operative surgeries and complications are also more cost-effective showing that herbal medicines are more affordable than modern pharmaceuticals.
- Herbal medicines are easier to obtain than prescription medications
Herbal extracts, essential oils and herbal teas are all herbal products that can be found in stores and purchased without a doctor’s prescription. This makes it easier to access these products without incurring further costs in health care.
- They have beneficial and healing properties.
Herbal medicines have been proven to treat chronic and acute ailments such as cardiovascular disease, problems with the prostrate, depression, inflammation and a weak immune system. As a matter of fact, 70% of the 177 medicines used to treat cancer are made from plant extracts or are chemical imitations of the natural components.
Best plants used in herbal medicine
- Raw garlic – treats diabetes, boosts the immune system, treats cardiovascular diseases, relieves allergies, deals with hair loss and fights fungal and viral infections
- Ginger – relieves indigestion and nausea, fights bacterial and fungal infections and improves immunity and respiration. It also treats stomach ulcers, prevents malabsorption and inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
- Milk thistle
- Johns Wort
- Gingko Biloba
- Aloe Vera
- Saw Palmetto