Herbal Medicine: An Ounce Of Prevention
In recent years the issue of Alternative Healing has taken the medical world by storm.
A 2004 government survey concluded that more than one-third of adults use some form of alternative medicine and healing. Many of those using alternative therapies do not even discuss them with their traditional healthcare practitioners.
One facet of this burgeoning interest in Herbal Medicine. While it may seem “trendy” to some, Herbal Medicine has been around for thousands of years. In fact, many of the familiar pharmaceutical medications we use today were originally created from “natural” ingredients. Drugs like opium (from poppies), aspirin (from willow bark), digitalis (from foxglove) and quinine (from the cinchona tree.)
What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal Medicine is the use of botanicals (plants) either singularly or in combination to prevent and treat certain ailments and illnesses.
People native to different geographical locations have long used plants and plant extracts to cure specific maladies. Sometimes referred to as “folk” medicine, it is generally recognized that there are three schools of research one can follow with regard to the history of these treatments.
There is the study of medicines based on Greek, Roman and medieval sources, which is largely used by Western schools of thought, Ayurveda which comes from India, and the Eastern tradition of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Rather than separation, these different schools of thought provide more commonality than division.
It stands to reason that most ancient peoples used plants that were native to their geographical location, which provides sound reasoning as to why different schools of thought exist. All three of these modalities at one time included both philosophical and spiritual aspects along with the scientific knowledge that existed within a specific time frame. In the study that determined one-third of Americans used alternative therapies, the same number surveyed showed a dramatic increase in positive results to more than 60% when “prayer” was included in the mix.
Ayurveda, loosely translated to “knowledge of life,” is the ancient Indian system of medicine. Dating back to more than 6,000 years ago, Ayurvedic Medicine practiced not just Herbal Medicine, but some of the earliest surgical procedures as well as inoculation.
Over the years Ayurvedic Medicine became increasingly symptomatic as opposed to treating the root cause of disease, which originally was steeped in strengthening the immune system
With all our so-called advancements in the medical field, it’s interesting that physicians are still treating “effect” rather than “cause.”
The old adage that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” could not be truer. This is especially true when it comes to natural remedies.
Nothing in the makeup of a plant tells us in what way it would be used the best. There are over half-million known herbs that could be used as possible remedies.
Chinese Herbalist practitioners have over 2,000 herbs that are readily available in their pharmacies.
Herbal remedies around the globe vary in strength from the very mild and gentle remedies that are use even as food, to those that are potential poisons when taken at the wrong dose.
Folk use of herbal remedies is familiar to all of us in some form or another. This is because herbal remedies are learned by being passed down from generation to generation.
Unfortunately, this hearsay is what fuels the fire of the scientific community and their disdain.
But by dismissing generations of experience and observation, it is really the traditional scientific community which is losing out on this wisdom.
In recent times, attitudes toward traditional and herbal remedies have changed for the better. Many medical schools now offer studies in complementary medicine alongside traditional medical courses.
It’s only a matter of time before herbal medicine becomes part of a more holistic practice of healthcare.