Herbal medicine has been with us for thousands of years. For the most part of human history, it was the only option people have of fighting various illnesses and injuries. Today, with so many pharmaceutical options on the market, there are plenty of those who claim that herbal medicine is obsolete and that modern pharmacology can provide us with much better solutions. Despite them, herbal medicine seems to have resurfaced in the last few decades, because it is natural, largely safe and free from side effects. Another reason behind its popularity is that it works together with your body and trigger its natural reactions and functions.
There are more than 20,000 plants that are used in herbal medicine. Any part of the plant may be used, roots, flowers, leaves, bark, fruit or anything else that contains an active substance. Ancient cultures have discovered these beneficial plants back in the time of hunter-gatherer societies by following sick animals and paying attention to what plants are they eating. They would then apply the same plants to humans with similar symptoms. It was a heavy hit and miss method and not always effective, but it was all they got.
Herbal medicine is even mentioned in the Bible, Ezekiel 47:12 : “And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat and the leaf thereof for medicine.”
One of the first recorder herbal dr*gs was white willow bark extract. It was used for centuries to treat inflammations and fever. The active substance is called salicin or salicylic acid. It couldn’t be used orally, because it caused a strong gastric reaction until it was paired with acetylsalicylic acid to create Aspirin, the first best-selling drug in pharmaceutical history. At least 25% of modern dru*s we use today have originally come from plants. Even Penicillin, the wonder drug of the 20th century, is a simple fungus, accidentally discovered by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming. Today, we have superbugs that are resistant to Penicillin, but nature may have an answer again, in a form of a New Zealand bush that may contain a substance that can be used as a foundation for a new super antibiotic.
Plants contain substances called Phyto-chemicals. They are better known as caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, and opium, to name just a few of the most famous ones. There are thousands of them and they can be very beneficial to human health on their own. In combination with other substances, they may be irreplaceable.
That is one of the major advantages herbal medicine has over the pharmaceutical industry. The substances in plants are often a combination of several Phyto-chemicals, in such balance that we can use them to improve our health. Unlike man-made dr*gs, there are rarely any side effects and no toxins. That is why the effect they have on our bodies is far easier to handle and less stressful for our organism.
Some of the plants we can use at home include the following:
- Aloe Vera: for healing burns and wounds
- Lavender: for congestion, coughs, and colds
- Comfrey: for aches pains and damaged joints
- Feverfew: avoid migraine headaches
- Dandelion or Nettle leaves: keep the kidneys clear of stones
You can make various options or creams and balsams from these plants, based on recipes that are easy to follow. There are also plenty of herbs we use every day, but don’t know what are their benefits, like:
- Rosemary: protects the brain
- Thyme: to keep away the viruses
- Turmeric: A powerful anti-inflammatory
- Cloves: Kills stomach bugs and intestinal parasites
- Ginger: Calms the stomach and improves circulation
- Cayenne: Improves heart function and relieves stomach ulcers
- Fennel seeds: Soothe bloating and indigestion
- Chamomile and Peppermint teas: Relaxing and Calming, reduce indigestion
This is only a small sample of many beneficial plants that can be used for herbal medicine recipes. They are also very useful in preventive medicine, keeping our body in shape and helping us prevent sickness from setting in. And finally, one of the most popular uses of herbal medicine is detoxication, a process we all should be undergoing regularly, considering the world we are living in.