Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytomedicine. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.
Herbalism has a long standing tradition of being used outside of conventional medicine.
History of Herbal Medicine
Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian papyrus writings have been found and describe medicinal uses for plants. African and Native Americans used herbs in their healing rituals, while other cultures developed traditional medical systems (such as Traditional Chinese Medicine) where they used herbal therapies. Although there are cultures all over the world that use herbal medicines they all tended to use the same or similar plants for the same purposes.
Chemical analysis first became available in the early 19th century allowing scientists to extract and modify the active ingredients from plants. As time evolved chemists learned to make their own version of plant compounds, soon after the use of herbal medicines declined as people began to choose and favor drugs. The World Health Organization estimated that 80% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some part of their primary health care.
While in Germany physicians prescriptions are about 70% herbal. There are also about 600 – 700 plant-based medicines available in Germany alone. Over the last 20 years the United States has seen a rise in herbal medicine, as the public has become unhappy with the cost of prescription medications. With the continued dissatisfaction of prescription medication many Americans are returning to natural or organic remedies.