Herbal Medicine: An Ounce Of Prevention
By Priya Shah • February 18th, 2006 • 4164 Views
In the western world a new form of health care is taking shape. 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 is 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.