Medicinal Plants: The Complete Introduction To Herbal Medicine

by Nov 7, 2021Plants & Spices0 comments

I’ve already talked a lot about medicinal plants. You’ve learned about their history, safety, and relevancy. Yet, I’ve received several requests for a full guide. That takes us to today’s topic. You’ll learn everything you need to know about herbal medicine.

Primarily, I’ll talk about how this industry has grown over the years. Likewise, you’ll learn what science has to say. I’ve always been an advocate for accessible medicine. Thus, I’ll also focus on how the market has become more available.

Naturally, I’ll also recommend a promising product if you like herbal medicine. To learn how to craft your own treatments, read till the end!

The history and growth of medicinal plants

Herbal medicine comes from the animistic belief that everything has a spirit. These traditions remain relevant today, as indigenous cultures revere nature’s spirituality. Today, most medical practices have neglected said beliefs.

However, we can still see rich cultures with these philosophies. Traditional Chinese medicine is the best example.

Despite losing this connection, modern medicine has deep roots. We can blame traditional herbal medicine for most of today’s drugs and treatments. In many countries, it’s still a popular alternative to costly modern treatments.

How has herbal medicine blended into our culture?

Of course, this “market” still has plenty of traditionalists. Plenty of cultures and indigenous communities uphold the fundamental principles. But, we can’t forget that herbal remedies have become more common today.

Today, migration keeps increasing and borders become less restrictive. It has allowed countless cultures to merge and learn from each other.

We can see “modern herbal remedies” in today’s health and fitness supplements. Similarly, herbal remedies are becoming more popular alternatives to modern treatments.

The tradition and present of medicinal plants

Herbal remedies have grown considerably with time. Today, it’s more than an obscure lifestyle culture. It’s a legitimate alternative therapy, valued in the billions of dollars.

Industrialization has also offered new manufacturing possibilities. Herbal remedies can take seemingly countless forms. We don’t have to rely on infusions and oils.

Practitioners can use diverse practices:

  • Herbs.
  • Capsules and tablets.
  • Drinks.
  • Ointments.
  • Rubs.

These advancements have been critical in making traditional medicine more popular. Modern research has also discovered new uses for the same plants. Thus, product variety is another benefit.

Herbal medicine’s path to becoming more widespread

So, why isn’t herbal medicine as popular as modern alternatives? The World Health Organization has a great answer. Lack of research is the main concern. There’s a considerably low volume of research and financial support for it.

Thus, we’re still learning how each plant and combination works physiologically. That’s troubling when we consider how much we know about every treatment today.

Think of Penicillin. Today, we know virtually everything about how it interacts with our bodies. Yet, we’re still discovering new properties in plants used for millennia.

Naturally, this is a big hurdle for manufacturing and regulation.

Other obstacles include:

  • Lacking education and expertise from authorities.
  • Improper mechanisms for monitoring and regulation.
  • Cooperation between manufacturers and health authorities.
  • Outlandish marketing strategies and bold, unregulated claims.

Important developments for medicinal plants in the market

Yes, herbal medicine is somewhat less widespread than modern medicine. But, that—in no way—means it’s disappearing. Far from it, herbal treatments are crucial in many regions. Primarily, they offer care for less wealthy communities.

The Nippon Foundation is easily among the best contributors. It’s become a primary health pillar for countless communities. Let’s look at their modern efforts to contribute to herbal medicine and society.

Why should we do that? It’s more than spreading awareness. It paints an amazing picture of what herbal treatments have done. The same holds for where it might go.

Herbal medicine “care packages”

One of the most interesting developments is “traditional medicine box.” These projects are essentially “care packages” for different regions. We’ve got Mongolia, Myanmar, and Thailand among the receptors.

The content in these medicinal plant packages is also quite interesting. We can find combinations between herbal and traditional medication. For instance, some may get herbal medicine for cough and sterilizing alcohol.

International conferences for traditional and herbal medicine

The Nippon Foundation also holds the ASEAN international conference. Since 2009, it’s been responsible for cultural exchange. Naturally, this extends to medicinal knowledge from different regions.

Of course, it’s a crucial effort for making traditional medicine more widespread. Standardization is a primary benefit of these exchanges. That’s because it’s something that herbal medicine has always lacked.

Education focused on medicinal plants and traditional medicine

Education was critical for modern medicine’s development. Thus, it’s amazing that The Nippon Foundation understands this. The foundation supports Cambodia’s National School of Traditional Medicine. They provide experts and student support.

The school’s content is also similar to modern medicine. Anatomy and pharmacology accompany subjects like acupuncture. These efforts benefit herbal medicine’s development and image. With time, they could motivate further research for the industry.

Collaboration with the World Health Organization

As we mentioned, the WHO is still hesitant toward traditional medicine. So, The Nippon Foundation’s collaboration is crucial. One key area is granting policy surveys and regulations. This education is necessary for official endorsement.

The foundation has helped with surveys, monographs, and conferences. Fundamentally, this exposes herbal medicine as legitimate science. Efforts like this are essential for turning herbal medicine into a widespread industry.

What’s the science behind medicinal plants?

Today, most plant-based medicine has more scientific foundations. Yes, the spiritual side of things is still prominent. Yet, we’ve learned to consider chemical structures and physical effects.

Naturally, herbal medicine has grown into a science.

Sadly, lacking regulation has obscured many of its benefits. That’s why I must point out this study on herbal medicine’s COVID-19 benefits. The insight is crucial for understanding herbal remedies’ actions.

Moreover, we must note its benefits’ meaning. Antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects are outstanding for more than COVID-19.

Thus, don’t take this as a recommendation for a coronavirus treatment. We’ll just use the study to shed light on the general benefits.

Is COVID-19 shedding light on the benefits of herbal medicine?

The pandemic started in China, which put its traditional medicine to the test. Many patients received traditional medicine with positive results. It occurred in multiple stages, but further research is necessary.

The similarity between COVID-19 and previous SARS-CoV is worth noting. Chinese herbal medicine could provide similar results as it did before. Lacking modern drugs and vaccines made this more important.

Holistic treatments with medicinal plants tackle several fronts

Both COVID-19 and traditional herbal medicine take a holistic approach. The virus attacks on many fronts. It’s primarily respiratory. Yet, inflammation and immunity are common factors.

Thus, it’s easy to see how herbal medicine could benefit similar diseases. Traditional medicine typically targets several areas.

Antiviral benefits of medicinal plants

Certain plants could inhibit COVID-19’s action by binding to relevant receptors. That’s because of its action in organs like the heart. These are rich in these receptors.

That sheds light on a promising benefit from herbal medicine. Plants are complex systems. They interact differently with some organs, receptors, and nutrients. Thus, the antiviral benefits need more research.

Anti-inflammatory effects of herbal medicine

There’s another benefit from herbal medicine. COVID-19 has plenty of symptoms, and inflammation is common. Many common herbal extracts have anti-inflammatory effects.

The study mentions these benefits as central when treating COVID-19. But, that also means promising applications for other conditions. It also sheds light on the next fundamental benefit.

Medicinal plants may act directly on the lungs

The same anti-inflammatory extracts also have expectorant benefits. They’ve seen plenty of use to relieve cough and phlegm. But, they also go beyond that.

Lung inflammation is a considerable risk for COVID-19 patients. It’s also common in other respiratory illnesses. Thus, herbal medicine could yield great results against pulmonary obstruction.

The holistic approach of medicinal plants and aiding comorbidity

Comorbidities are a primary danger for COVID-19 patients. It targets our hearts, kidneys, liver, and more. Herbal medicine could keep the virus from spreading to other areas.

Thus, this reinforces the holistic overview of herbal medicine. These benefits suggest herbal medicine’s comprehensive scope. They deliver a comprehensive treatment that could aid other ailments.

Lung fibrosis: Herbal medicine’s final benefit

Finally, we’ve got permanent pulmonary scarring and obstruction. Some medicinal plants could prevent—or reverse—this condition.

It’s a vital consideration because fibrosis comes from multiple conditions. For instance, medicinal herbs have shown promise in pneumonia cases. Further research could shed light on these benefits.

The development of medicinal plants in the western market

Finally, we can’t attribute all herbal treatments to Chinese medicine. Western traditions also have rich knowledge and practices. It’s also a different phenomenon from its eastern counterpart.

This study takes an intriguing approach to analyze herbal remedies. It focuses on plants’ complexity and their interactions with our organisms. It’ll help us slightly move away from Ayurveda’s spiritual focus.

Let’s see the scientific support behind western medicinal herbs.

What keeps western herbal medicine from growing?

Most of the practice and knowledge behind it comes from life experience. It focuses on improving the patient’s overall well-being. But, holism incurs many assumptions and spirituality. Thus, it often clashes with modern biomedical sciences.

We also have to consider the “more natural” approach from herbal medicine. Medicinal plants tend to go through extensive processing. That’s when they’re considered in modern medicine. That clashes with the traditional, “unprocessed” use of herbal therapies.

The complexity from medicinal plants and treatment implications

As mentioned, “crude” medicinal plants are the basis of herbal treatments. That means we’re dealing with living and complex systems. It makes it difficult to assess standard causality for each treatment. Thus, standardization becomes an issue.

Moreover, these treatments rarely come in isolated herbs. Most experts use mixes and formulas. The complexity increases considerably. Likewise, different volumes for each ingredient also change the effects.

Why synergy matters in herbal medicine

The synergy between chemical interactions is also worth noting. Science has discovered plenty of synergies with intact plants. But, compounds are a different story. Again, this is an issue when we consider that mixes are typical.

Of course, this creates a problem with many formulas. Plenty of herbal medicine’s benefits come from these interactions. For instance, the Dandelion leaf has diuretic properties. But, these come when complemented with potassium

Implications from environmental adaptation in medicinal plants

Environmental coadaptation separates medicinal plants from synthetic medicine. It refers to how plants evolve according to the environment. That also includes interactions with humans and other animals.

This property shows in plants containing Berberine. This chemical aids plants to survive microbes and other dangers. For humans, it helps us fight infections. That way, plants and people coexist. The medical relationship between both has formed through millennia.

The non-linearity issue with herbal medicine

But, there’s another issue. Herbal medicine works differently depending on the patient. For some, the ailments disappear. For others, they feel energized and motivated to cope. That said, it could also be key to its benefits.

Some practitioners believe it’s crucial for self-healing. They merely strengthen our bodies enough. In turn, we’re able to fight off infections and diseases. On the other hand, it makes it tougher to classify and standardize herbal medicine.

The holistic takeaway

medicinal plants book with pot of herbs

Medicinal plants have been crucial for today’s medicine industry. Most treatments today come from these traditions. It’s normal to stray away from these practices. Yet, their principles are vital for understanding how we tackle diseases.

It’s also critical if you wish to leverage its benefits. With that in mind, I want to recommend to you The Lost Book Of Herbal Remedies. It’s a complete guide to creating your herbal remedies.

With it, you’ll learn:

  • Recipes.
  • Gardening.
  • Herb guides, references, and breakdowns.
  • Dosages.

Everything, from production to recipes, is in just one book.

If you want to learn more, check out my official review!

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