What Are Medicinal Herbs, How Are They Used?

medicinal herbs

In a world where pharmaceutical companies seem to have an overwhelming foothold on the types of medicines that people are using to heal human diseases; natural herbs, those used mainly for medicinal purposes, have become less used and often forgotten. Herbal medicine has its origins in ancient cultures. 100 or so years ago, natural or medicinal herbs were the go-to when treating most ailments.

It has been estimated that 25% of modern medicines are made from plants. These include medicines such as ephedrine, artemisinin, paclitaxel and aspirin. In fact, many pharmaceutical medications are based on man-made versions of naturally occurring compounds found in plants.

With chemically induced drugs being more popular than ever, herbal medicine and other traditional therapies have shown to be a more complementary and alternative treatment. Specifically, herbal medicine, which has gained more attention and popularity recently.

So, what are medicinal herbs?

An herb is a plant or a part of a plant used for its scent, flavor, or therapeutic properties. Medicinal herbs are plants that are used for healing purposes. Additionally, other types of herbs include culinary herbs, used to flavor food, and aromatic herbs, used to add fragrance and create essential oils. Medicinal herbs cover a wide spectrum of plants. They can be annuals or perennials; woody or herbaceous; sun loving or shade requiring. The parts of the plants used for medicine may be their leaves, flowers, roots, seeds or bark. What puts medicinal herbs together in a category is their use in healing. Plants have been used by humans and animals for medicine for hundreds of years.

How Are They Used?

The purpose of herbal medicine is to treat disease and improve general health and wellbeing by using the healing capabilities of plants. A few herbs have very potent ingredients and should be used with the same level of caution as pharmaceuticals.

Used at times as a dietary supplement, herbal medicines are sold as powders, capsules, teas, fresh or dried plants, tablets and extracts. Many people use medicinal herbs to enhance or maintain their health. Herbal medicine aims to bring the body back to a state of balance so that it can naturally heal itself. Various herbs act on various systems of the body.

A few herbs that are often used in herbal medicine, and their traditional uses, include:

  • Garlic – used to decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering blood fat levels and cholesterol. The antibiotic and antiviral properties of garlic mean that it is also used to fight colds and other illnesses that affect the respiratory system.
  • Ginseng – mainly used to quell fatigue. It is also used to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Beware, overuse has been linked to raised blood pressure.
  • Echinacea – used to treat ailments such as fever, boils and herpes. Also helps the body fight off infection while stimulating the immune system.
  • Ginger – according to some studies, ginger has shown to be effective in treating morning sickness, motion sickness and nausea.
  • Dong quai (dang gui) – used for gynecological issues such as period pain, premenstrual tension and menopause symptoms. Some research indicate that it may help lower blood pressure.
  • Ginkgo biloba – used to treat poor blood circulation as well as ear ringing. It’s perhaps best-known for its ability to improve brain health. Research suggest that gingko can treat patients with mild to moderate dementia.
  • Turmeric – as an anti-inflammatory, it can be used as a supplement and it’s been used primarily for people with arthritis who wish to ease discomfort. It’s used globally as a cooking ingredient, which makes it a tasty, antioxidant-rich addition to various meals.

In several parts of the world many herbs are used to honor their kings showing it as a symbol of luck.

Medicinal plants are considered as a rich source of ingredients which can be used in the creation of drugs either pharmacopoeial, non- pharmacopoeial or synthetic drugs.  Besides that, these plants play a crucial role in the creation of human cultures around the globe.  Moreover, some plants are considered as vital sources of nutrition and as a result of that they are recommended for their therapeutic values.  A few of these plants include ginger, green tea, walnuts, aloe, pepper and turmeric etc.  Some plants and their derivatives are considered as important source for active ingredients which are used in aspirin and toothpaste etc.

Herbs are also used in natural dye, pest control, food, perfume, etc.  In various countries across the world, many medicinal herbs and plants are used to keep different insects, rodents and bugs away from offices and homes.

Are They Safe For Use?

Along with the significant increase of global consumption, the safety of medicinal herbs has been highlighted. Presently, there are misunderstanding and prejudice toward the safety of herbal medicine. So, objective understanding, neutral and fair interpretation, and publicity are warranted.

Herbal medicines can be mistakenly thought to be completely safe because they are ‘natural’ products. This is not always true. Some herbs, such as comfrey and ephedra, can cause serious harm. Some herbs can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Medicinal herbs may produce some mild to severe negative effects such as:herbal medicine

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Vomitting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rashes and Allergic Reactions
  • Diarrehea
  • Asthma
  • Death

It is critical that people do not self-diagnose any health conditions. Like many other prescription and pharmaceutical medications, please be sure to research anything you are thinking about putting into your body. Make sure to consult with your doctor and/or a registered practitioner.

Where To Get Them?

Herbal Medicine can be attained online or a store that sales medicinal plants.  Herbs can also be grown and used.

Please be very careful when looking to purchase any medicinal herbs or medicines period.  You should properly research everything you choose to put into your body.  Also, please be wary of merchants who promote or sell bad herbs, plants or medicines.

The Bottom Line…

Medicinal herbs are very helpful in aiding ailments in the body. They can be used in various way to heal various things. As the world continues to go further toward more unnatural and man-made solutions for health issues, herbal medicine can be a great and “natural” compliment and/or alternative to pharmaceutical medications.  As herbs are natural products they are free from side effects, they are comparatively safe, eco-friendly and locally available.  Traditionally, there are lots of herbs used for the ailments related to different seasons.  There is a need to promote them to save the human lives.

These herbal medicines of today are a symbol of safety in contrast to the synthetic drugs, that are regarded as unsafe and poisonous to human beings and the environment.  While herbs have been valued for their medicinal, flavoring, healing and aromatic qualities for millennia, the synthetic pharmaceutical products of the modern age  have usurped their significance, for some time.  Nevertheless, the blind dependence on synthetics has come to an end and people are returning to the natural plants and herbs with hope of safety and security.  It’s time to promote them to the populous worldwide.

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