Natural medicine, also called herbal medicine, has been around for centuries. Natural medicine is commonly practiced by people who prefer to treat symptoms and illnesses with natural remedies rather than pharmaceuticals. By using the bark, berries, flowers, leaves, roots and seeds of different plants, people who practice natural medicine are able to treat many ailments.
Ancient Chinese and Egyptian writings describe many medical uses for plants dating back to 3,000 BC. Traditional Chinese Medicine developed many herbal therapies that were commonly used. African and Native American cultures also frequently used various herbs in their healing rituals. In fact, research has shown that cultures around the globe used the same or similar plants for the same medical purposes.
In the early 19th century, natural medicine quickly evolved as scientist discovered how to extract and modify the plant’s active ingredients. This led herbal medicine into the hands of chemists, who began to synthesize plant compounds. Unfortunately, this new scientific approach resulted in a decline of natural medicine as more and more people turned to pharmaceutical drugs to treat their ailments. Now only about 25% of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from botanicals.
Despite the rise of large pharmaceutical companies, about 80% of people globally still rely on natural medicine for at least some portion of their health care. In Germany there are over 600 plant based medicines that are commonly prescribed by doctors. In the US, people are starting to turn away from big pharmaceutical companies and return to natural medicine.
Many factors contribute to how effective a plant might be in treating ailments. The environment, method of harvest and how the plant is processed can all impact the active ingredient. While scientists aren’t certain about how specific ingredients work to treat various conditions, there is no denying that natural medicine is effective and beneficial.
It is important, however, to be aware of the care required for making the most of botanical extracts. If proper care has not been taken with the plants then you may not be getting as good of a product as you were led to believe. As with any medication, it is important to consider the source when putting anything into your body.