What is Herbal Medicine?

What’s the first image that comes to mind when you think of herbal medicine?

Is it a backyard cauldron brewing a pungent, bubbling broth; or a little old lady administering herbs from the kitchen table? We’ve come a long way since the dark ages of herbal medicine and the images it provokes.

Today qualified herbalists are professional people who have studied for many years the components of phyto-medicine and its effects on the human body.

Herbal medicine is the oldest and still the most widely used system of medicine in the world today.

It involves the therapeutic use of plants to help prevent or treat various illnesses and enhance general health and wellbeing. Some or all parts of a plant, such as flowers, roots, fruits, leaves, and bark, are used to provide certain therapeutic effects and maximise the body’s own healing capacities. Herbal remedies come in a variety of forms and may be taken internally as a liquid extract, tablet or tea, or externally as a cream or ointment.

Using plants as medicine provides significant benefits for treating many conditions.

It focuses on the whole person, treating the underlying causes of health problems by supporting and stimulating the body’s innate healing mechanisms, rather than just focussing on the symptoms and the disease. Herbal remedies are not intended to replace modern allopathic medicine but can often be used side by side to achieve the best possible outcome for patients.

Herbal remedies are used for a number of health conditions including;

  • Improvement and/or general support of digestive function
  • Respiratory
  • Circulatory
  • Immune
  • Endocrine, and nervous system processes

They have also been shown to be effective in removing waste and toxins from bodily cells and promote healing of the skin when used topically.

The increasing demand for herbal supplements has seen a flood of various remedies hit the market!

But buyer beware……not all herbal remedies are created equal!!

A number of things need to be considered before taking any form of herbal remedies:

  • Does the remedy contain the correct species of the herb and the correct parts of the plant? (vital to getting a positive outcome and avoiding a negative one!)
  • Are the herbs suitable for your individual health needs?
  • What is the correct dose required for your individual needs?
  • Are there any known contraindications or interactions with medications?

When taken correctly herbal remedies provide safe and therapeutic benefits for many health conditions.  For this reason it’s important to talk with a qualified herbalist or naturopath before self –prescribing with herbal remedies off the shelf or on-line.