Since prehistory, humans are known to use herbs as remedies for all kinds of ailments and over a thousand species of plants were recorded for their healing properties. A good example is the depiction of plants as healing agents in the Lascaux caves in France which was dated with Radiocarbon dating process and the result revealed that it was made between 13,000-25,000 BCE
Chemical compounds produced in plants especially those made to protect themselves against predators such as toxins and to fertilize such as pollens, are all known to have therapeutic actions to human bodies. Some well known examples are inulin from the roots of dahlias, quinine from the cinchona, morphine and codeine from the poppy, and digoxin from the foxglove.
Today, herbal medicines are categorized as complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). CAMs are becoming very popular but especially so in Europe where CAMs are mainly produced.
There are numerous types of CAMs, but the most popular of all are herbal teas which are made mainly of leaves, roots and barks of plants. Well known herbal teas are chamomile, peppermint and ginger teas.
Second most popular remedy is the herbal tinctures, which are made by soaking the medicinal parts of plants in alcohol extracts and as a result, they can be stored for a much longer period of time. An herbalist can combine many tinctures and made them into one formula for a particular patient. Similarly, fluid extracts of plants are made in the same way as the tinctures, except that they are much stronger.
Powdered herbs and tablets are probably the easiest to consume and nowadays almost every medicinal herb has been made into tablet and capsule forms. However, some traditional herbalists may argue that the process in making tablets and powder which involve heating and drying may reduce the medicinal properties of the plants.
Herbal ointments and essential oils are for external use only. Ointments are used to treat wounds and rashes, while essential oils are used mainly because of their therapeutic scents that are believed to have effects to the human body and mind. This type of therapy is called aromatherapy and is increasingly becoming very popular all over the world.
Herbal remedies have been around for thousands of years and are hear to stay. They provide a great alternative to over the counter medicne at a greatly reduced price. Anyone who is considering to try an herbal remedy should give it a go because the Pro’s greatly out weight the Con’s.
By: Daniel Millions
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