Your Complete Guide to Herbal Remedies

 

 

Herbal remedies are just like they sound - a plant called an herb is used to improve physical health and wellbeing in lieu of or in support of traditional Western medicine. Herbs have been used for centuries in a number of cultures to provide health benefits; herbal remedies may come in the form of extracts, teas, powders, capsules, tablets, or fresh plants.

The History of Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine is considered to be alternative medicine and dates back thousands of years to document its use throughout history. Chinese herbal treatments were used over 5000 years ago under the Emperor Shen Nung in 2696 BC. Nung, also known as the Father of Chinese Agriculture, was said to have sampled hundreds of different herbs in order to personally verify and test their medicinal benefits.
Additionally, early Egyptian and Chinese papyrus scrolls supported the use of medicinal herbal remedies, dating back to 3000 BC. Throughout the world, herbs were used in the healing rituals of indigenous cultures, including Native American and African American tribes; other cultures cultivated their own medical systems that used herbal remedies, including Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
Yet it wasn’t until the beginning of the 19th Century that scientists were able to use chemical analysis to extract active ingredients from plant compounds. Chemists soon started to manufacture their own versions of herbal treatments that were instead used as pharmaceutical drugs. Today, roughly 25% of pharmaceutical drugs come from herbal ingredients.

Further information on the history of herbal medicine can be found here:
NYU Langone Medical Center: Herbal therapy is established as one of the most ancient types of medical treatment.
Herbal Supplement Resource: A complete timeline of herbal medicine, dating back to 2800 BC.
Utopia Health Care: Chinese herbal medicine dates back 2500-3000 years ago.
National Herbalists Association of Australia: Herbal medicine is the oldest and most widespread medicinal system used worldwide.
MyDr.com: Herbal medicine is also called phytotherapy, phytomedicine, or botanical medicine.

The Health Benefits of Herbal Medicine
Herbal remedies can provide a number of medicinal benefits since they contain natural chemicals that promote a biological response in the body. As discussed above, an herb can work similarly to a pharmaceutical drug prescribed by a doctor. Many herbalists support the use of herbal medicine since they believe that herbs can treat various health conditions without side effects often caused by conventional drugs.

Herbal remedies can be used to treat physical and emotional ailments like:
Skin issues that include acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Digestive problems that include colitis, IBS, indigestion, heartburn, and peptic ulcers.
Circulatory problems that include high blood pressure, varicose veins, and ulcers.
Reproductive disorders that include premenstrual and menopausal symptoms.
Arthritis
Insomnia
Anxiety
Headaches
Colds/flu
Allergies/asthma

Supporting research and studies for the use of herbal medicine to improve health can be found at:
American Institute for Cancer Research: Consuming herbs regularly can help to prevent cancer.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Horse Chestnut is often used to treat circulatory disorders, diarrhoea, and varicose veins.
National Cancer Institute: Consuming garlic could reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
University of Maryland Medical Center: Hawthorn is a popular herbal remedy used to treat heart disease, dating back to the first century.
National Breast Cancer Foundation: Ginkgo biloba can preserve cognitive function in women with early breast cancer that have received chemotherapy.
Herbs Are Special: Liquorice has a number of healing benefits, often used to treat coughs and chest congestion.
University of Utah Health Care: Bilberry can help to slow down the progression of macular degeneration to promote healthy vision.
University of Pittsburgh: Echinacea has been used as an analgesic and antiseptic to treat sore throats, toothaches, and wounds.
Herbal Safety: Milk thistle is most often used to treat liver disease, hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.
The Linus Pauling Institute: Researchers discovered that American ginseng could inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.

How to Use Common Herbal Remedies
Clearly, the benefits of herbal remedies are vast, especially as an alternative to traditional medicine. While many people use herbs as dietary supplements, patients can also consult licensed herbalists to receive alternative medical therapies for mild to severe illnesses.
Though most natural herbal supplements are safe for personal use, it is still important to consult with a doctor before using an herbal remedy. Many over-the-counter botanicals can range from mild to potent in their use. Some mild herbal supplements may include chamomile and peppermint to improve digestion; more potent herbs like kava will work immediately to relax muscles and decrease anxiety.
For this reason, it’s important to research herbal supplements thoroughly and consult a physician before taking any new botanicals. Since dietary supplements are not regulated by federal law or tested for safety, the effects of one herbal supplement may vary greatly compared to another.
Nonetheless, many patients see success by consulting with a licensed herbalist and using pure, natural herbs for personal treatment. Natural herbs can be used to treat a number of ailments, such as ginger to reduce inflammation and ease joint pain, aloe vera to soothe hives, fenugreek to promote healthy digestion, and goldenseal to protect against parasites and yeast infections.

Complete resources on herbal remedies for home use can be found at:
A List of Herbal Remedies: Natural or alternative treatments for common health issues.
Herbal Remedies: Widespread ailments and corresponding herbal treatments used as infusions.
Toothache Home Remedies: Natural herbs that can be used to treat an emergent toothache.
Herbal Remedies: Detailed list of herbs recommended for their healing properties.
List of Herbs: 75-100 herbs and flowers found in the National Library of Medicine herb garden that provide medicinal benefits.
Herbal Remedies: Lengthy list of herbal remedies for ailments ranging from acne to Alzheimer’s disease to laryngitis.
Herbal Library: Educational materials on herbal remedies provided by the American Botanical Council.
Family Herbal Remedies: List of herbal remedies and recipes for home use that include bath salts, skin care, herb bread, herb butter, and homemade tea.
Heal Your Body Naturally: Natural remedies without the use of prescription medication to boost immune health, increase blood flow, and improve energy.

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