Choose the right herb..!!

We are living in an era of diseases. Every morning we hear about a new disease. Our medical practitioners are trying to find medicines for every disease. But the fact is that our nature has solutions for all our problems. Our nature has all the medicines needed to cure all our diseases on her lap. Only thing is that, we have to sort out which medicine is suitable for particular disease.

Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism or botanical medicine is a medical system based on the use of plants or plant extracts that may be eaten or applied to the skin. Since ancient times, herbal medicine has been used by many different cultures throughout the world to treat illness and to assist bodily functions. While herbal medicine is not a licensed profession in the United States, herbal remedies in the form of extracts, tinctures, capsules and tablets as well as teas may be recommended by healthcare practitioners of many different disciplines as  a practical way to address a wide variety of medical conditions. 

Herbal medicines blurs the line between foods and medicines- a line that, in many cultures, was never drawn in the first place using herbs and spices that have disease-preventive effect in foods is one of the best ways to take advantage of their healing power. For eg, it appears that the daily use of the spice turmeric in curry dishes is one reason elderly people in India have one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world

According to the WHO, herbal medicines include herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations and finished herbal products that contain as active ingredients parts of plants, or other plant materials or combinations. Currently, it is estimated that 2.3 billion people representing 56% of the world’s population still depend on traditional healing techniques.

In Africa, approximately 80% of its population takes some form of herbal medication. The common reasons for using herbal medicines are personal preference and affordability. It is also perceived to be more effective than western medicine and without side effects. Worldwide there has been tremendous expansion in the interest and use of herbal medicines.

People have high reference for everything natural, believing that they are pure and without adverse effects. They hardly consider the fact that they are introducing into their body unknown chemical substances of plant origins. Some herbal constituents are carcinogenic (cancer predisposing), like Safrole, Bergaten and Pyrrolizidines alkaloids. Research into herbal medicines proves that some herbal drugs can be linked to strokes, muscle weakness, seizures, liver, renal and cardiac failures.

Sometimes a herb offers a safer alternative. Take chamomile: The  

flowers  have  been  used  for  centuries as a gentle calmative for young and old alike. It’s non habit-forming and well tolerated, and a study sponsored by the University of Michigan found that chamomile extract had roughly the same efficiency as many prescription sleeping medications when given to adults with Insomnia.

Likewise, peppermint oil has been shown to be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs for relieving irritable bowel syndrome, but it has dangerous side effects. And clinical studies have shown that Ginger relieves morning sickness, sage can relieve a sore throat and Hibiscus tea gently lowers blood pressure.

Garlic, a potent microbial; often used to combat colds, ease congestion and stave off traveller’s diarrhea. Studies show that regular use can help lower blood pressure.

Marshmallow’s root and leaf are rich in mucilage. It is really useful for sore throat and heartburn. Thyme relieves coughs, colds and congestion. Horse Chestnut is highly effective for treatment of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Hops is an excellent sleeping aid. It is also used to ease tension, restlessness and anxiety.

General practices include ancient methods of traditional Chinese medicines and Ayurveda Practitioners of herbalism or Phytotherapy are referred to as herbalists or Phytotherapists.

Some Chinese herbal products may be safe, but others may not be. There have been reports of products being contaminated with drugs, toxins or heavy metals ornot containing the listed ingredients. Some of the herbs used in Chinese medicine can interact with drugs, can have serious side effects or may be unsafe for people with certain medical conditions. For eg, the Chinese herb Ephedra (ma huang) has been linked to serious health complications, including heart attack and stroke. In 2004, the FDA(Food and Drug administration) banned the sale of Ephedra-containing dietary supplements.

Tibetan medicine and traditional Chinese medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda. Early Greek medicine also embraced many concepts originally described in the classical Ayurvedic medical texts.

Now days, the Western world, particularly Europe and the United States, has become increasingly fascinated with and interested in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic wisdom offers life enhancing practices as well as herbal medicinal preparations for the health and well-being of the whole human being: body, mind and soul.

Every coin will have two sides. Likewise, herbal medicine too has a negative side. The founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, reportedly delayed conventional treatment for several months and experimented with alternative medicine, when he was diagnosed with a rare form of 

pancreatic cancer.

The jury is still out on whether it was alternative medicine that killed him. 

Green tea extracts, herb teas and Garciniacambogia for weight loss, Bilimbi juice for reducing high cholesterol levels, Soy foods for relieving menopausal symptoms.

People are generally happy and feel safe taking these herbal supplements rather than modern medicines for various health issues.

However, the increasing use of dietary supplements and self-administered herbal remedies among people have led clinicians to sound the warning that many of these substances can cause significant harm to the liver and kidneys.

Researchers in the US who looked at cases of liver damage reported to the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network, a programme funded by the National Institutes of Health, has reported that in  2014, 20% of the liver injuries were linked to herbal remedies and dietary supplements.

Ayurvedic medicines prepared in the traditional way, with years of standing, does have a margin of safety.

But even the safety of traditional herbs may be compromised if it is prepared in the non-traditional way.

Herbal medicines do have adverse effects, which might be inconspicuous or which develop gradually.

Even too much of Green tea can interfere with conventional drugs lie Statins and warfarin. Green tea extract, a main ingredient in the so called weight loss supplements, has produced symptoms ranging from mild increase of serum aminotransferase levels to fulminant hepatitis acquiring liver transplant, according to British journal of Clinical pharmacology.

The herbal medicine market has been led by the Asia Pacific region. The Asia Pacific market is led by China and India.

The second fastest region is Europe especially France which has a tradition of aromatics and herbalism.

Himalaya drugs, Blackmores, Tsumura, Schwabe, Madaus, Arkopharma, Nutraceutical International Corporation etc. are the key companies producing herbal products.

Every medical practice has its own advantages and disadvantages. We have to choose what is most suitable for our body, not what others do. Herbalism is good, since through herbalism knowingly or unknowingly we will try to protect our plants. It’s a way to unlock the mysteries in our nature. Through herbalism our nature tells us that, Nature itself creates all the problems, and it has the solution to those problems in itself. She is compelling us to solve the puzzle which she has given. 


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