Medical schools » Medical resources » Natural Medicine


Natural Medicine

What is natural medicine?

Natural Medicine is also known as Herbal Medicine that is used to cure patients with diseases. An herb is a plant or plant part valued for its remedial, aromatic or acceptable qualities. Herb plants generate and contain a diversity of chemical substances that act upon the body.

Herbal medicine, also known as botanical medicine or phytomedicine, refers to the use of some plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or vegetation for medicinal purposes.

Many medicines originally come from plants. For example, the painkiller morphine comes from poppies; aspirin comes from the bark of willow trees and digoxin.

What is the history of herbal medicine?

Plants had been applied for medicinal purposes long before recorded history. For example, ancient Chinese and Egyptian papyrus writings tell medicinal plant uses. Indigenous cultures (e.g., African and Native American) used herbs in their curative rituals, while others developed traditional medical systems (e.g., Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine) in which herbal therapies were used scientifically. Scientists found that people in diverse parts of the world tended to apply the identical or similar plants for the same causes.

In the early 19th century, when processes of chemical analysis first became available, scientists began obtaining and modifying the energetic ingredients from plants. Later, chemists began creating their own version of plant compounds, beginning the transition from raw herbs to synthetic pharmaceuticals. Over time, the use of herbal medicines was rejected in favour of pharmaceuticals.

How do herbs work?

For most herbs, the exact ingredient that causes a therapeutic effect is not known. Whole herbs have many ingredients, and it is likely that they work together to produce the desired medicinal effect. Many factors influence how efficient an herb will be. For example, the type of environment (weather, bugs, soil quality) in which a plant grew will involve its components, as will how and when it was harvested and processed.

How are herbs used?

Numerous herbs are frequently used together to improve effectiveness and synergistic actions and to decrease toxicity. Herbalists must obtain many things into account when prescribing herbs. For example, the species and variety of the plant, the plant's habitat, how it was stored and processed, and whether or not there are contaminants.