Herbal Medicine, also known as Botanical Medicine or Herbalism, is the use of herbs for medical or therapeutic purposes. A Herb, is a plant, that is valued for its savory, aromatic and medicinal quality. Herbal medicines are the most ancient healthcare system known to mankind. They are used by all cultures throughout the world.
During ancient days, the medicinal use of herbs was developed based on observations on animals, and through a process of trial and error. With passage of time, men collected information on herbs, and developed herbal pharmacies. By twentieth century, most scientific medicines were actually derived from the herbal medicines used by native people. Hence most drugs used today, are still of herbal origin. It has been observed that a minimum of twenty five percent prescription drugs, actually contain atleast one ingredient derived from herbs.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), it is estimated that at least eighty percent of the world’s population use herbal medicine for primary health care. Herbal medicine is a common element in all traditional medicine, Ayurvedic, naturopathic, homeopathic, Indian medicine and Native American medicine.
Herbal medicines are now being used even for treatment of major illness such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, Asthma, physical pain, injuries and other problems. Ephedra, is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for Asthma and Respiratory problems. Similarly, the powdered leaf of Foxglove plant is currently used by thousands of heart patients today.
Herbal Medicine is broadly classified as Ayurvedic Herbalism (Derived from Ayurveda) and Traditional Oriental Medicine (Chinese herbalism) and Western Herbalism (derived from Rome and Greece, and spread to Europe, America). Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbal medicines have grown into sophisticated system of treatment over centuries, while Western Herbalism is mainly considered as a primary folk medicine.
Herbal Medicine respects the holistic nature of mind, body and soul and provides a promising effect in psychiatric and neurological disorders. The right information about features, habitat, constituents, dosage, qualities, parts used etc., about medicinal herbs used in herbal medicines, enable us to use them more effectively and accurately in minimizing bad effects, while maximizing benefits.