Herbs have played a major part in medicine for thousands of years.

Every culture and every medicinal system, from Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine, have used herbs for therapeutic purposes. There are thousands of herbs with thousands of different uses, many of which are used in conventional medicine as well as for natural remedies.

Herbs are widely used today, in teas, vitamins and natural supplements. While the benefits of herbal medicine are vast, it is important to understand the basis of herbal medicine.

Herbal medicine, also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine, refers to using a plant’s seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside conventional medicine. It is becoming more mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control, along with advances in clinical research, show the value of herbal medicine in treating and preventing disease.

According to an article about herbal medicine by the WHO “Traditional herbal medicines are naturally occurring, plant-derived substances with minimal or no industrial processing that have been used to treat illness within local or regional healing practices. Traditional herbal medicines are getting significant attention in global health debates. In China, traditional herbal medicine played a prominent role in the strategy to contain and treat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).”

Dr. Susan Tanner, M.D. who talks about the benefits of natural medicine says that “people have practiced natural medicine for centuries. Before the advent of modern technology, doctors and their patients had to rely on natural techniques and herbal remedies to treat illnesses or heal injuries. Everything from the common cold to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease have been purported to be successfully treated without the use of modern-day medical equipment.”

Dr. Tanner states in her blog why you should consider natural medicine:

  • No harmful side effects.
  • Pharmaceutical drugs often cause adverse reactions in the patients that take them, and the worst part about it is that the companies that manufacture these drugs often do so without being aware of them.
  • Herbal medicine utilizes the body’s natural healing process for treating conditions. The ingredients used are those which are regularly produced in the body.
  • It is cost-effective. One of the main downsides to modern medicine is its cost. It is not uncommon for even generic pharmaceutical drugs to cost hundreds of dollars. A trip to the emergency room for treating a headache, for example, can easily cost this much money. You can also buy most herbal drugs over the counter, which means you don’t need to have expensive health insurance.

In research for this blog post we found other advantages include:

There are a number advantages associated with using herbal medicines as opposed to pharmaceutical products. Such as:

  • Reduced risk of side effects: Most herbal medicines are well tolerated by the patient, with fewer unintended consequences than pharmaceutical drugs. Herbs typically have fewer side effects than traditional medicine, and may be safer to use over time.
  • Effectives with chronic conditions: Herbal medicines tend to be more effective for long-standing health complaints that don’t respond well to traditional medicine.
  • Lower cost: Another advantage to herbal medicine is cost. Herbs cost much less than prescription medications. Research, testing, and marketing add considerably to the cost of prescription medicines. Herbs tend to be inexpensive compared to drugs.
  • Widespread availability: Yet another advantage of herbal medicines are their availability. Herbs are available without a prescription. You can grow some simple herbs, such as peppermint and chamomile, at home. In some remote parts of the world, herbs may be the only treatment available to the majority of people.

We want to provide a balanced perspective, so provide the following disadvantages of herbal medicine, which include:

  • Herbal medicines are known to be ineffective against serious ailments. Herbal medication cannot cure a broken hand, nor is it able to deal with heart attack related issues as effectively as an conventional doctor.
  • In some instances, individuals switch to herbal medication without realizing that the symptoms can be linked to a different ailment. Unlike, conventional medication which involves constant monitoring of your health, herbal medicines are taken without prescription which means that in some cases, individual might be undergoing a trial and error process with their medication.
  • Although herbal medicines has the potential to cure many ailments, the curing period is usually longer in comparison to conventional medication. One needs to have immense patience while undergoing herbal treatment.
  • Herbal medicines can cause allergic reactions in some cases. Before resorting to herbal medication you need to ensure that you are not allergic to the particular herb that you will be consuming. Conventional medication can also cause allergic reactions, but they are usually taken upon prescriptions which is why the chances of allergic reactions are less.

The bottom line? It is well stated by Dr. Tanner “Natural medicine is widely understood to increase the body’s ability to ward of diseases. Increased immunity and an overall healthier state of being can easily be achieved with continued treatment.”

Source: University of New Hampshire: Herbal Medicine | Health Services http://unh.edu/health-services/ohep/complementaryalternative-health-practices/herbal-medicine

Herbs.lovetoknow.com http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/Advantages_and_Disadvantages_of_Herbal_Medicine

HealthGuidance.org   http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/12415/1/Advantages-and-Disadvantages-of-Herbal-Medicine.html

Susan Tanner, M.D. http://www.susantannermd.com/articles/benefits-of-natural-medicine.html#.V69gZBS4bzJ

WHO http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/8/07-042820/en/

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