What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine uses remedies from plants to treat disorders and maintain good health.

The use of plants to maintain good health is as old as time itself. Cultures throughout the world had knowledge of their local healing plants. Western herbal medicine is based on the Greek tradition that was first described by the Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates in the 4th century B.C. The original system was further developed by physicians such as Galen, Dioscorides & Avicenna. A detailed description of who’s who in Greek medicine can be found here.
Although they have different diagnostic paradigms Western Herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda have much in common, in that they all seek to restore harmony and vitality to the body.

Plants are the origin of many present day drugs. You probably know that aspirin, a drug commonly used for pain relief was first developed from phytochemicals called salycilates found in Willow Bark. However unlike pure aspirin, given as a whole herb extract willow bark is less likely to cause digestive disturbance.

There are many other examples of drugs that originate in plants, here are a few examples Digoxin, a  heart medication used in heart failure & atrial fibriltation derived from foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). The difference between a therapeutic dose and fatal dose is so small that Digitalis is banned from use by herbalists, Digoxin can only be prescribed by a medical doctor.
Quinine, an anti malaria drug derived from the tropical rainforest tree Cinchona spp

Tamiflu, an antiviral medication used to treat symptoms of the flue virus from star anise (Illicium verum)

Morphine, a narcotic pain reliever used to treat moderate to severe painfrom the Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Paclitaxel (Taxol) a derivative of the Pacific yew Taxus brevifolia, is used in chemotherapy. - See more at:
Paclitaxel (Taxol) a derivative of the Pacific yew Taxus brevifolia, is used in chemotherapy. - See more at:
Herbal medicine is still the most widely-practised form of medicine across the globe with 80% of the world's population dependent on herbs for its health.

Today, western herbal medicine blends the traditions of the past with the scientific knowledge of today. Indeed, research is proving that traditional remedies are effective medicines.

Plants, however, are not used like drugs to obliterate symptoms, but rather as  remedies designed to help the body heal itself. Naturally balanced, herbal medicine is more easily absorbed and less likely to cause unwanted side-effects than pharmaceutical drugs. It’s used to support the body’s own healing mechanisms in order to restore a balanced state of health.