Natural Medicinal Herbs Information
Understanding herbs and using herbal medicines
Most people are familiar with herbs as foods-for example, basil and oregano in sauces, parsley as a garnish. However, for thousands of years many cultures around the world have used herbs and plants not just to eat but to treat illness.
Archaeological evidence shows that even prehistoric man used plants to heal. Today, the World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the world's population uses some form of herbal medicine.
Many of the drugs now prescribed come from plants that ancient cultures used medicinally. (The word drug comes from the Old Dutch word drogge, meaning "to dry," because pharmacists, doctors, and ancient healers often dried plants to use as medicines.) About onefourth of all conventional pharmaceuticals-including roughly 120 of the most commonly prescribed modem drugscontain at least one active ingredient derived from plants. The rest are chemically synthesized.
Some herbs and plants have value not just for their active ingredients but for other substances they contain, such as
In the United States, many traditional health care providers lack knowledge about herbal remedies, and their patients may be reluctant to reveal their use of such remedies. But renewed interest in all forms of alternative medicine has led consumers, health care providers, and drug researchers to reexamine herbal remedies. Medicinal herbs have been touted in magazines, books and television shows, sometimes with advocated making amazing clamins for their benefits.
Common drugs made from plants or herbs.
Many drugs in common use today have botanical origins. Here's a selected list.
Uses of natural herbs
A plant's leaves, flowers, stems, berries, seeds, fruit, bark, roots, or any other part may be used for medicinal purposes. Most herbal remedies are used to treat minor health problems, such as nausea, colds, cough, flu, headache, aches and pains, stomach and intestinal disorders (such as constipation and diarrhea), menstrual cramps, insomnia, skin disorders, and dandruff.
Some herbalists have reported success in treating certain chronic conditions, including peptic ulcers, inflammation of the colon, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, and respiratory problems. Some use herbal remedies for illnesses usually treated only with prescription drugs, such as heart failure.
However, if you have a serious disorder and are considering an herbal remedy, don't discontinue ongoing medical treatment. Also be sure to tell your health care practitioner about any prescribed drugs you're taking, because these may interact with herbal remedies.
Forms of natural herbs
Herbs come in various forms, depending on their medicinal purpose and the body system involved. You can buy herbs individually or in mixtures formulated for specific conditions. Herbs may be prepared as tinctures or extracts, capsules or tablets, lozenges, teas, juices, vapor treatments, or bath products. Some herbs are applied topically with a poultice or compress. Other are rubbed into the skin as an oil, an ointment, or a salve.
General precautions when you are taking herbs
When to avoid natural medicinal herbs
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