Also popularly known as herbalism, medical herbalism, botanical medicine, herbology, phytotherapy, and herblore, herbal medicine involves using a plant’s roots, berries, seeds, bark, flowers, or leaves for healing purposes. With the increasing interest today in health and general wellness around the world, alternative medications are gaining in popularity.
In addition to increasing scientific evidence that show herbal medicines are very effective for specific diseases and conditions, they are generally cheaper than conventional drugs. Following are some of the health issues that can be treated or prevented by herbal medicines.
There are numerous medicinal herbs that can help control and manage cardiovascular problems. Garlic, for one, is said to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which are keys to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Kelp and alfalfa are also known to lower the risks for heart problems and prevent stroke.
Digestive disorders like diarrhea, ulcer, constipation, and many other similar ailments can be treated by using herbs like chicory, caraway, ginger, clove, rosemary, and red pepper, among others.
A wide variety of medicinal herbs can be ingested for respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, asthma, and others. Gingko, for one, is a known cure for asthma. Horehound is a well-known expectorant that can be used as a remedy for coughs. Thyme is also a good cough cure. On the other hand, dandelion is good for bronchitis, while eucalyptus can be used to loosen the phlegm, making breathing easier and more comfortable. There are many respiratory ailments known today, and there are just as many herbal medicine cures available, perhaps even more.
There are many types of herbs that can be used to make salves and creams that can help address many skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, rashes, burns, and others. Herbs like aloe, allspice, mint, basil, and turmeric are only some of the herbs that are known to be useful in treating various skin conditions.
Some medicinal herbs are known to help prevent and slow down the growth and development of specific types of cancer cells in the body. Garlic and dandelion are known to help prevent cancer growth. Anise and fennel are said to be effective in slowing down and fighting prostate cancer. On the other hand, ginseng is known to be of tremendous help for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy to get rid of cancer.
Risks of Herbal Treatments
Although medicinal herbs are typically beneficial to the body for many health conditions, there are a few disadvantages that may be experienced when using herbal remedies.
Some herbs can cause allergic reactions when used in conjunction with conventional medicines. Some may even be toxic when used excessively or when recommended use is not followed.
Unlike conventional drugs, herbs with medicinal value are not under FDA regulation. They are instead considered as dietary or nutritional supplements under the DSHEA law. As such, some products may be sold without undergoing proper testing. It is therefore recommended that proper consultation with a health professional be done prior to using such products.