The Chinese have used herbs as part of Traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, herbal medicines are made up of plants, plant matter including roots, bark, flowers petals and seeds. They come in many different formulas including pills, capsule, and liquid and can help with a wide variety of illnesses and problems.
What exactly is herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is totally holistic and only contains all natural ingredients, this is not a new thing to medicine, and in fact many more traditional medicines contain plant material. For example morphine is derived from poppy seeds, while the popular pain killer aspirin comes from comes from willow bark. While herbal medicine has been used for centuries in Britain it is only over the last few years that it has rose in popularity.
Like most holistic forms of alternative medicine herbal remedies treat the person as a whole. This means that more than the symptoms are taken into account when prescribing remedies. It also relies on the premise that given time the body will heal itself if looked after correctly. While all parts of the plant can be used individually the majority of herbal practitioners believe that the herb should be used whole to get the most benefit from it.
Is there any proof that herbal medications work?
There are a huge range of illnesses and complaints that herbal remedies are said to help, with millions of people throughout the world taking them on a daily basis and over long periods of time. Having said this there is no scientific proof that any of the remedies actually do work, sceptics have said that it is all mind over matter but there are many that deny this emphatically.
However certain ingredients and remedies have shown evidence that they do work and have undergone clinical trials. St Johns wort is one which has proven to help with depression, while garlic has been known to reduce the blood pressure and lower heart disease.
How safe are herbal remedies?
While herbal remedies are made from totally natural substances they can also have side effects and shouldn’t be taken in certain conditions. Anyone who is currently taking medication prescribed by their Doctor should mention that they wish to take herbal remedies. Herbal remedies can interact with medication prescribed by your Doctor so it is essential you seek advice.
Although very rare there have been known to have been severe reactions to taking certain herbal ingredients and sometimes even fatalities. Currently most herbal medicines don’t fall under any regulations in the UK; however this is planned for the future with guidelines and regulatory controls being introduced.
Consultation with an herbalist
If you wish to take herbal medicine then it is wise to consult an herbalist rather than buy over the counter remedies. While there are many pre made remedies available at most chemists, a herbalist will be able to diagnose your problem after a consultation and recommend a herbal remedy for your condition. Treatment will not only be given based on your symptoms but also on your lifestyle and diet.