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Herbalism

Herbalism

Overview
Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine
Folk medicine
-Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

 practice based on the use of plants and plant extract
Plant extract
Plant extract may refer to:* Herbalism and traditional medicine* Biopesticides...

s. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, herblore, and phytotherapy
Phytotherapy
Phytotherapy is the study of the use of extracts from natural origin as medicines or health-promoting agents.Traditional phytotherapy is often used as synonym for herbalism and regarded as "alternative medicine" by much of Western medicine, although effects of many substances found in plants have...

. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee
Bee
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila...

 products, as well as minerals
Dietary mineral
Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. Examples of mineral elements include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iodine...

, shells and certain animal parts.
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Encyclopedia
Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine
Folk medicine
-Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

 practice based on the use of plants and plant extract
Plant extract
Plant extract may refer to:* Herbalism and traditional medicine* Biopesticides...

s. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, herblore, and phytotherapy
Phytotherapy
Phytotherapy is the study of the use of extracts from natural origin as medicines or health-promoting agents.Traditional phytotherapy is often used as synonym for herbalism and regarded as "alternative medicine" by much of Western medicine, although effects of many substances found in plants have...

. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee
Bee
Bees are flying insects closely related to wasps and ants, and are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. Bees are a monophyletic lineage within the superfamily Apoidea, presently classified by the unranked taxon name Anthophila...

 products, as well as minerals
Dietary mineral
Dietary minerals are the chemical elements required by living organisms, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen present in common organic molecules. Examples of mineral elements include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iodine...

, shells and certain animal parts. Pharmacognosy
Pharmacognosy
Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines derived from natural sources. The American Society of Pharmacognosy defines pharmacognosy as "the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of drugs, drug substances or potential drugs or drug substances of natural origin as well...

 is the study of medicines derived from natural sources.

Traditional use of medicines is recognized as a way to learn about potential future medicines. In 2001, researchers identified 122 compounds used in mainstream medicine which were derived from "ethnomedical" plant sources; 80% of these compounds were used in the same or related manner as the traditional ethnomedical use.

Plants have evolved the ability to synthesize chemical compounds that help them defend against attack from a wide variety of predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals. By chance, some of these compounds, whilst being toxic to plant predators, turn out to have beneficial effects when used to treat human diseases. Such secondary metabolites are highly varied in structure, many are aromatic substances, most of which are phenols
Phenols
In organic chemistry, phenols, sometimes called phenolics, are a class of chemical compounds consisting of a hydroxyl group bonded directly to an aromatic hydrocarbon group...

 or their oxygen-substituted derivatives. At least 12,000 have been isolated so far; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total. Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effects on the human body by binding to receptor molecules present in the body; such processes are identical to those already well understood for conventional drugs and as such herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. This enables herbal medicines to be in principle just as effective as conventional medicines but also gives them the same potential to cause harmful side effects. Many of the herb
Herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

s and spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

s used by humans to season food yield useful medicinal compounds.

Similarly to prescription drugs, a number of herbs are thought to be likely to cause adverse effects. Furthermore, "adulteration, inappropriate formulation, or lack of understanding of plant and drug interactions have led to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening or lethal.

Anthropology of herbalism


People on all continents have used hundreds to thousands of indigenous plants for treatment of ailments since prehistoric times. Medicinal herbs were found in the personal effects of Ötzi the Iceman
Ötzi the Iceman
Ötzi the Iceman , Similaun Man, and Man from Hauslabjoch are modern names for a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived about 5,300 years ago. The mummy was found in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, near Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. The nickname comes from the...

, whose body was frozen in the Ötztal Alps
Ötztal Alps
The Ötztal Alps are a mountain range in the central Alps of Europe, part of the Central Eastern Alps. They are arrayed at the head of the Ötztal, a side valley of the Inn River southwest of Innsbruck, Austria; the line of summits forms part of Austria's border with Italy.The western border is the...

 for more than 5,300 years. These herbs appear to have been used to treat the parasites found in his intestines. Anthropologists theorize that animals evolved a tendency to seek out bitter plant parts in response to illness .

Indigenous healers often claim to have learned by observing that sick animals change their food preferences to nibble at bitter herbs they would normally reject. Field biologists have provided corroborating evidence based on observation of diverse species, such as chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

s, chicken
Chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

s, sheep and butterflies
Butterfly
A butterfly is a mainly day-flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, which includes the butterflies and moths. Like other holometabolous insects, the butterfly's life cycle consists of four parts: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Most species are diurnal. Butterflies have large, often brightly coloured...

. Lowland gorillas take 90% of their diet from the fruits of Aframomum melegueta
Aframomum melegueta
Aframomum melegueta is a species in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. This spice, commonly known as grains of paradise, melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains or Guinea pepper, is obtained from the ground seeds; it gives a pungent, peppery flavour...

, a relative of the ginger
Ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

 plant, that is a potent antimicrobial
Antimicrobial
An anti-microbial is a substance that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoans. Antimicrobial drugs either kill microbes or prevent the growth of microbes...

 and apparently keeps shigellosis
Shigellosis
Shigellosis, also known as bacillary dysentery or Marlow Syndrome, in its most severe manifestation, is a foodborne illness caused by infection by bacteria of the genus Shigella. Shigellosis rarely occurs in animals other than humans and other primates like monkeys and chimpanzees...

 and similar infections at bay. Current research focuses on the possibility that this plants also protects gorillas from fibrosing cardiomyopathy which has a devastating effect on captive animals.

Researchers from Ohio Wesleyan University
Ohio Wesleyan University
Ohio Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college in Delaware, Ohio, United States. It was founded in 1842 by Methodist leaders and Central Ohio residents as a nonsectarian institution, and is a member of the Ohio Five — a consortium of Ohio liberal arts colleges...

 found that some birds select nesting material rich in antimicrobial agents which protect their young from harmful bacteria.

Sick animals tend to forage plants rich in secondary metabolites, such as tannins and alkaloids. Since these phytochemicals often have antiviral
Antiviral drug
Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections. Like antibiotics for bacteria, specific antivirals are used for specific viruses...

, antibacterial, antifungal and antihelminthic properties, a plausible case can be made for self-medication by animals in the wild.

Some animals have digestive systems especially adapted to cope with certain plant toxins. For example, the koala
Koala
The koala is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia, and the only extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae....

 can live on the leaves and shoots of the eucalyptus
Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

, a plant that is dangerous to most animals. A plant that is harmless to a particular animal may not be safe for humans to ingest. A reasonable conjecture is that these discoveries were traditionally collected by the medicine men
Medicine man
"Medicine man" or "Medicine woman" are English terms used to describe traditional healers and spiritual leaders among Native American and other indigenous or aboriginal peoples...

 of indigenous tribes, who then passed on safety information and cautions.

The use of herbs and spices in cuisine developed in part as a response to the threat of food-borne pathogens. Studies show that in tropical climates where pathogens are the most abundant, recipes are the most highly spiced. Further, the spices with the most potent antimicrobial activity tend to be selected. In all cultures vegetables are spiced less than meat, presumably because they are more resistant to spoilage.

History



The use of plants as medicines predates written human history. A 60 000-year-old Neanderthal burial site, "Shanidar IV", in northern Iraq has yielded large amounts of pollen from 8 plant species, 7 of which are used now as herbal remedies.

In the written record, the study of herbs dates back over 5,000 years to the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ians, who described well-established medicinal uses for such plants as laurel
Laurel
-Botany:* Laurel family , a group of flowering plants** Azores laurel ** Bay Laurel , also called True Laurel** California Laurel ** Camphor Laurel...

, caraway
Caraway
Caraway also known as meridian fennel, or Persian cumin is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, native to western Asia, Europe and Northern Africa....

, and thyme
Thyme
Thyme is a culinary and medicinal herb of the genus Thymus.-History:Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage...

. Ancient Egyptian medicine
Ancient Egyptian medicine
The medicine of the ancient Egyptians is some of the oldest documented. From the beginnings of the civilization in the until the Persian invasion of 525 BC, Egyptian medical practice went largely unchanged and was highly advanced for its time, including simple non-invasive surgery, setting of...

 of 1000 BC are known to have used garlic
Garlic
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and rakkyo. Dating back over 6,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent...

, opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

, castor oil
Castor oil
Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean . Castor oil is a colorless to very pale yellow liquid with mild or no odor or taste. Its boiling point is and its density is 961 kg/m3...

, coriander
Coriander
Coriander is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is native to southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. It is a soft, hairless plant growing to tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the...

, mint
Mentha
Mentha is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae . The species are not clearly distinct and estimates of the number of species varies from 13 to 18. Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally...

, indigo, and other herbs for medicine and the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 also mentions herb use and cultivation, including mandrake
Mandrake
Mandrake may refer to:* Mandrake , a plant of the genus Mandragora* Mandragora , in occultism* Mandrake Linux, former name of Mandriva Linux, a computer operating system...

, vetch, caraway
Caraway
Caraway also known as meridian fennel, or Persian cumin is a biennial plant in the family Apiaceae, native to western Asia, Europe and Northern Africa....

, wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, and rye
Rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

.

In India, Ayurveda
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 medicine has used many herbs such as turmeric
Turmeric
Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to tropical South Asia and needs temperatures between 20 °C and 30 °C and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive...

 possibly as early as 1900 BC. Many other herbs and minerals used in Ayurveda
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 were later described by ancient Indian herbalists such as Charaka
Charaka
Charaka, sometimes spelled Caraka, born c. 300 BC was one of the principal contributors to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda, a system of medicine and lifestyle developed in Ancient India...

 and Sushruta during the 1st millennium BC. The Sushruta Samhita
Sushruta Samhita
The Sushruta Samhita is a Sanskrit text, attributed to one Sushruta, foundational to Ayurvedic medicine , with innovative chapters on surgery....

attributed to Sushruta in the 6th century BC describes 700 medicinal plants, 64 preparations from mineral sources, and 57 preparations based on animal sources.

The first Chinese herbal
Chinese herbology
Chinese Herbology is the theory of Traditional Chinese herbal therapy, which accounts for the majority of treatments in Traditional Chinese medicine ....

 book, the Shennong Bencao Jing
Shennong
Shennong , which names mean "Divine Farmer", but also known as the Emperor of the Five Grains , was a legendary ruler of China and culture hero reputed to have lived some 5,000 years ago...

, compiled during the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 but dating back to a much earlier date, possibly 2700 BC, lists 365 medicinal plants and their uses - including ma-Huang, the shrub that introduced the drug ephedrine to modern medicine. Succeeding generations augmented on the Shennong Bencao Jing, as in the Yaoxing Lun
Yaoxing Lun
Yaoxing Lun , literally Treatise on the Nature of Medicinal Herbs, is a 7th century Tang Dynasty Chinese treatise on herbal medicine.-See also:*Pharmacognosy*Chinese herbology*Compendium of Materia Medica*Traditional Chinese medicine...

(Treatise on the Nature of Medicinal Herbs), a 7th century Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 treatise on herbal medicine.

The ancient Greeks and Romans made medicinal use of plants. Greek and Roman medicinal practices, as preserved in the writings of Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

 and - especially - Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, provided the pattern for later western medicine. Hippocrates advocated the use of a few simple herbal drugs - along with fresh air, rest, and proper diet. Galen, on the other hand, recommended large doses of drug mixtures - including plant, animal, and mineral ingredients. The Greek physician compiled the first European treatise on the properties and uses of medicinal plants, De Materia Medica. In the first century AD, Dioscorides wrote a compendium of more than 500 plants that remained an authoritative reference into the 17th century. Similarly important for herbalists and botanists of later centuries was the Greek book that founded the science of botany, Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

' Historia Plantarum, written in the fourth century BC.


Middle Ages


The uses of plants for medicine and other purposes changed little in early medieval Europe
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

. Many Greek and Roman writings on medicine, as on other subjects, were preserved by hand copying of manuscripts in monasteries. The monasteries thus tended to become local centers of medical knowledge, and their herb gardens provided the raw materials for simple treatment of common disorders. At the same time, folk medicine in the home and village continued uninterrupted, supporting numerous wandering and settled herbalists. Among these were the "wise-women", who prescribed herbal remedies often along with spells and enchantments. It was not until the late Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

 that women who were knowledgeable in herb lore became the targets of the witch hysteria. One of the most famous women in the herbal tradition was Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen
Blessed Hildegard of Bingen , also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and...

. A twelfth century Benedictine nun, she wrote a medical text called Causes and Cures.

Medical school
Medical school
A medical school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches medicine. Degree programs offered at medical schools often include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Bachelor/Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, master's degree, or other post-secondary...

s known as Bimaristan
Bimaristan
Bimaristan is a Persian word meaning hospital, with Bimar- from Middle Persian of vīmār or vemār, meaning "sick" plus -stan as location and place suffix...

 began to appear from the 9th century in the medieval Islamic world
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

 among Persians and Arabs, which was generally more advanced than medieval Europe
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 at the time. The Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s venerated Greco-Roman culture and learning, and translated tens of thousands of texts into Arabic for further study. As a trading culture
Islamic economics in the world
Islamic economics in practice, or economic policies supported by self-identified Islamic groups, has varied throughout its long history. Traditional Islamic concepts having to do with economics included...

, the Arab travellers had access to plant material from distant places such as China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and India
History of India
The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

. Herbals, medical texts and translations of the classics of antiquity filtered in from east and west. Muslim botanists
Muslim Agricultural Revolution
The Arab Agricultural Revolution is a term coined by the historian Andrew Watson in his influential 1974 paper postulating a fundamental transformation in agriculture from the 8th century to the 13th century in the Muslim...

 and Muslim physicians significantly expanded on the earlier knowledge of materia medica
Materia medica
Materia medica is a Latin medical term for the body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing . The term 'materia medica' derived from the title of a work by the Ancient Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century AD, De materia medica libre...

. For example, al-Dinawari
Al-Dinawari
Ābu Ḥanīfah Āḥmad ibn Dawūd Dīnawarī was a Persian polymath excelling as much in astronomy, agriculture, botany and metallurgy and as he did in geography, mathematics and history. He was born in Dinawar, . He studied astronomy, mathematics and mechanics in Isfahan and philology and poetry in...

 described more than 637 plant drugs in the 9th century, and Ibn al-Baitar described more than 1,400 different plants, food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

s and drugs, over 300 of which were his own original discoveries, in the 13th century. The experiment
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

al scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 was introduced into the field of materia medica in the 13th century by the Andalusian
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

-Arab botanist Abu al-Abbas al-Nabati, the teacher of Ibn al-Baitar. Al-Nabati introduced empirical
Empirical
The word empirical denotes information gained by means of observation or experimentation. Empirical data are data produced by an experiment or observation....

 techniques in the testing, description and identification of numerous materia medica, and he separated unverified reports from those supported by actual tests and observations. This allowed the study of materia medica to evolve into the science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 of pharmacology
Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

.

Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

's The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopedia of Galenic medicine in five books compiled by Ibn Sīnā and completed in 1025. It presents a clear and organized summary of all the medical knowledge of the time...

(1025) lists 800 tested drugs, plants and minerals. Book Two is devoted to a discussion of the healing properties of herbs, including nutmeg
Nutmeg
The nutmeg tree is any of several species of trees in genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia...

, senna, sandalwood
Sandalwood
Sandalwood is the name of a class of fragrant woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods they retain their fragrance for decades. As well as using the harvested and cut wood in-situ, essential oils are also extracted...

, rhubarb
Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a group of plants that belong to the genus Rheum in the family Polygonaceae. They are herbaceous perennial plants growing from short, thick rhizomes. They have large leaves that are somewhat triangular-shaped with long fleshy petioles...

, myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

, cinammon, and rosewater
Rosewater
Rose water or rose syrup is the hydrosol portion of the distillate of rose petals. Rose water, itself a by-product of the production of rose oil for use in perfume, is used to flavour food, as a component in some cosmetic and medical preparations, and for religious purposes throughout Europe and...

. Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 was an important center for Arab herbalism, as was Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

 between 800 and 1400. Abulcasis (936-1013) of Cordoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

 authored The Book of Simples, an important source for later European herbal
Herbal
AThe use of a or an depends on whether or not herbal is pronounced with a silent h. herbal is "a collection of descriptions of plants put together for medicinal purposes." Expressed more elaborately — it is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their...

s, while Ibn al-Baitar (1197–1248) of Malaga
Málaga
Málaga is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. This is the southernmost large city in Europe...

 authored the Corpus of Simples, the most complete Arab herbal which introduced 200 new healing herbs, including tamarind
Tamarind
Tamarind is a tree in the family Fabaceae. The genus Tamarindus is monotypic .-Origin:...

, aconite
Aconite
Aconite may refer to:*Aconitum, a plant genus containing the monkshoods*Aconitine, "the queen of poisons", a toxin derived from some of the Aconitum genus plants*Winter aconite, a plant in the genus Eranthis...

, and nux vomica. Other pharmacopoeia books include that written by Abu-Rayhan Biruni in the 11th century and Ibn Zuhr
Ibn Zuhr
Abū Merwān ’Abdal-Malik ibn Zuhr was a Muslim physician, surgeon and teacher in Al-Andalus.He was born at Seville...

 (Avenzoar) in the 12th century (and printed in 1491), The origins of clinical pharmacology
Clinical pharmacology
Clinical pharmacology is the science of drugs and their clinical use. It is underpinned by the basic science of pharmacology, with added focus on the application of pharmacological principles and methods in the real world...

 also date back to the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 in Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine, Peter of Spain
Peter of Spain
Peter of Spain or, in Latin, Petrus Hispanus is the Mediaeval author of Tractatus, later known as Summulae logicales magistri Petri Hispani , a standard textbook on logic...

's Commentary on Isaac, and John of St Amand's Commentary on the Antedotary of Nicholas. In particular, the Canon introduced clinical trial
Clinical trial
Clinical trials are a set of procedures in medical research and drug development that are conducted to allow safety and efficacy data to be collected for health interventions...

s,
randomized controlled trial
Randomized controlled trial
A randomized controlled trial is a type of scientific experiment - a form of clinical trial - most commonly used in testing the safety and efficacy or effectiveness of healthcare services or health technologies A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is a type of scientific experiment - a form of...

s,
and efficacy
Efficacy
Efficacy is the capacity to produce an effect. It has different specific meanings in different fields. In medicine, it is the ability of an intervention or drug to reproduce a desired effect in expert hands and under ideal circumstances.- Healthcare :...

 tests.

Alongside the university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 system, folk medicine
Traditional medicine
Traditional medicine comprises unscientific knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine...

 continued to thrive. The continuing importance of herbs for the centuries following the Middle Ages is indicated by the hundreds of herbals published after the invention of printing in the fifteenth century. Theophrastus’ Historia Plantarum was one of the first books to be printed, but Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica, Avicenna's Canon of Medicine and Avenzoar's pharmacopoeia were not far behind.

Modern era


The fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries were the great age of herbals, many of them available for the first time in English and other languages rather than Latin or Greek.
The first herbal to be published in English was the anonymous Grete Herball of 1526. The two best-known herbals in English were The Herball or General History of Plants (1597) by John Gerard
John Gerard
John Gerard aka John Gerarde was an English herbalist notable for his herbal garden and botany writing. In 1597 he published a large and heavily illustrated "Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes", which went on to be the most widely circulated botany book in English in the 17th century...

 and The English Physician Enlarged (1653) by Nicholas Culpeper
Nicholas Culpeper
Nicholas Culpeper was an English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. His published books include The English Physician and the Complete Herbal , which contain a rich store of pharmaceutical and herbal knowledge, and Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick ,...

. Gerard’s text was basically a pirated translation of a book by the Belgian herbalist Dodoens
Rembert Dodoens
Rembert Dodoens was a Flemish physician and botanist, also known under his Latinized name Rembertus Dodonaeus.-Biography:...

 and his illustrations came from a German botanical work. The original edition contained many errors due to faulty matching of the two parts. Culpeper’s blend of traditional medicine with astrology, magic, and folklore was ridiculed by the physicians of his day yet his book - like Gerard’s and other herbals - enjoyed phenomenal popularity. The Age of Exploration and the Columbian Exchange
Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange was a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations , communicable disease, and ideas between the Eastern and Western hemispheres . It was one of the most significant events concerning ecology, agriculture, and culture in all of human history...

 introduced new medicinal plants to Europe. The Badianus Manuscript was an illustrated Aztec
Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

 herbal translated into Latin in the 16th century.

The second millennium
2nd millennium
File:2nd millennium montage.png|From left, clockwise: In 1492, Christopher Columbus; The American Revolution; The French Revolution; The Atomic Bomb from World War II; An alternate source of light, the Light Bulb; For the first time, a human being sets foot on the moon in 1969 during the Apollo 11...

, however, also saw the beginning of a slow erosion of the pre-eminent position held by plants as sources of therapeutic effects. This began with the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

, which the then dominant Four Element medical system proved powerless to stop. A century later, Paracelsus
Paracelsus
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist....

 introduced the use of active chemical drug
Drug
A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and colloquial usage.In pharmacology, a...

s (like arsenic
Arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...

, copper sulfate, iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

, and sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

). These were accepted even though they had toxic effects because of the urgent need to treat Syphilis
Syphilis
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum subspecies pallidum. The primary route of transmission is through sexual contact; however, it may also be transmitted from mother to fetus during pregnancy or at birth, resulting in congenital syphilis...

. The rapid development of chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 and the other physical sciences, led increasingly to the dominance of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with an antineoplastic drug or with a combination of such drugs into a standardized treatment regimen....

 - chemical
Chemical substance
In chemistry, a chemical substance is a form of matter that has constant chemical composition and characteristic properties. It cannot be separated into components by physical separation methods, i.e. without breaking chemical bonds. They can be solids, liquids or gases.Chemical substances are...

 medicine - as the orthodox system of the twentieth century.

Role in modern human society


The use of herb
Herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

s to treat disease
Disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

 is almost universal among non-industrialized societies. A number of traditions came to dominate the practice of herbal medicine at the end of the twentieth century:
  • The "classical" herbal medicine system, based on Greek
    Ancient Greece
    Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

     and Roman
    Ancient Rome
    Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

     sources
  • The Siddha
    Siddha medicine
    The Siddha medicine is one of the oldest medical systems known to mankind. This system of medicine originated from south Indian Tamil traditional medicine, as part of the trio Indian medicines - ayurveda, siddha and unani. This system was very popular in ancient India...

     and Ayurvedic medicine systems from various South Asian Countries
  • Chinese herbal medicine
    Traditional Chinese medicine
    Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

     (Chinese herbology
    Chinese herbology
    Chinese Herbology is the theory of Traditional Chinese herbal therapy, which accounts for the majority of treatments in Traditional Chinese medicine ....

    ) 中药 (zhōngyào)
  • Traditional African medicine
    Traditional African medicine
    Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives, and herbalists...

  • Unani
    Unani
    Unani-tibb or Unani Medicine also spelled Yunani Medicine means "Greek Medicine", and is a form of traditional medicine widely practiced in South Asia...

    -Tibb medicine
  • Shamanic herbalism: a catch-all phrase for information mostly supplied from South America and the Himalayas
  • Native American
    Indigenous peoples of the Americas
    The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

     medicine.


Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

, aspirin
Aspirin
Aspirin , also known as acetylsalicylic acid , is a salicylate drug, often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication. It was discovered by Arthur Eichengrun, a chemist with the German company Bayer...

, digitalis
Digitalis
Digitalis is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and biennials that are commonly called foxgloves. This genus was traditionally placed in the figwort family Scrophulariaceae, but recent reviews of phylogenetic research have placed it in the much enlarged family...

, and quinine
Quinine
Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic , antimalarial, analgesic , anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic...

. The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world's population presently uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Pharmaceuticals are prohibitively expensive for most of the world's population, half of which lives on less than $2 U.S. per day. In comparison, herbal medicines can be grown from seed or gathered from nature for little or no cost.

In addition to the use in the developing world, herbal medicine is used in industrialized nations by alternative medicine
Alternative medicine
Alternative medicine is any healing practice, "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine." It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence....

 practitioners such as naturopaths. A 1998 survey of herbalists in the UK found that many of the herbs recommended by them were used traditionally but had not been evaluated in clinical trials. In Australia, a 2007 survey found that these Western herbalists tend to prescribe liquid herbal combinations of herbs rather than tablets of single herbs.

The use of, and search for, drugs and dietary supplements derived from plants have accelerated in recent years. Pharmacologists
Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

, microbiologists
Microbiology
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, which are defined as any microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters or no cell at all . This includes eukaryotes, such as fungi and protists, and prokaryotes...

, botanists
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

, and natural-products chemists are combing the Earth for phytochemical
Phytochemical
Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants . Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties . For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic...

s and leads that could be developed for treatment of various diseases. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, approximately 25% of modern drugs used in the United States have been derived from plants.
  • Among the 120 active compounds currently isolated from the higher plants and widely used in modern medicine today, 80 percent show a positive correlation between their modern therapeutic use and the traditional use of the plants from which they are derived.
  • More than two thirds of the world's plant species - at least 35,000 of which are estimated to have medicinal value - come from the developing countries.
  • At least 7,000 medical compounds in the modern pharmacopoeia are derived from plants

Biological background



All plants produce chemical compounds
Chemical compound
A chemical compound is a pure chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemical elements that can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure; they consist of a fixed ratio of atoms that are held together...

 as part of their normal metabolic
Metabolism
Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories...

 activities. These are divided into primary metabolites, such as sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

s and fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

s, found in all plants, and secondary metabolites, compounds not essential for basic function found in a smaller range of plants, some useful ones found only in a particular genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 or species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

. Pigments harvest light, protect the organism from radiation and display colors to attract pollinators. Many common weeds, such as nettle
Nettle
Nettles constitute between 24 and 39 species of flowering plants of the genus Urtica in the family Urticaceae, with a cosmopolitan though mainly temperate distribution. They are mostly herbaceous perennial plants, but some are annual and a few are shrubby...

, dandelion and chickweed
Chickweed
Chickweed, a common name, can refer to:* Cerastium - Mouse-ear Chickweed* Holosteum - Jagged Chickweed* Moenchia - Upright Chickweed* Paronychia - Chickweed* Stellaria pro parte - Chickweed...

, have medicinal properties.

The functions of secondary metabolites are varied. For example, some secondary metabolites are toxin
Toxin
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; man-made substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded...

s used to deter predation
Plant defense against herbivory
Plant defense against herbivory or host-plant resistance describes a range of adaptations evolved by plants which improve their survival and reproduction by reducing the impact of herbivores. Plants use several strategies to defend against damage caused by herbivores...

, and others are pheromone
Pheromone
A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual...

s used to attract insects for pollination
Pollination
Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. Pollen grains transport the male gametes to where the female gamete are contained within the carpel; in gymnosperms the pollen is directly applied to the ovule itself...

. Phytoalexin
Phytoalexin
Phytoalexins are antimicrobial substances synthesized de novo by plants that accumulate rapidly at areas of incompatible pathogen infection. They are broad spectrum inhibitors and are chemically diverse with different types characteristic of particular plant species...

s protect against bacterial and fungal attacks. Allelochemical
Heterotelergones
Heterotelergones are a class of biologically synthesized chemicals which entice, repel, immobilize, or alter tissues....

s inhibit rival plants that are competing for soil and light.

Plants upregulate and downregulate their biochemical paths in response to the local mix of herbivores, pollinators and microorganisms. The chemical profile of a single plant may vary over time as it reacts to changing conditions. It is the secondary metabolites and pigments that can have therapeutic actions in humans and which can be refined to produce drugs.

Plants synthesize a bewildering variety of phytochemical
Phytochemical
Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants . Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties . For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic...

s but most are derivatives of a few biochemical motifs.
  • Alkaloids contain a ring with nitrogen. Many alkaloids have dramatic effects on the central nervous system. Caffeine is an alkaloid that provides a mild lift but the alkaloids in datura
    Datura
    Datura is a genus of nine species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. Its precise and natural distribution is uncertain, owing to its extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe...

     cause severe intoxication and even death.
  • polyphenol
    Polyphenol
    Polyphenols are a structural class of natural, synthetic, and semisynthetic organic chemicals characterized by the presence of large multiples of phenol structural units...

    , also known as phenolics, contain phenol
    Phenol
    Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid. The molecule consists of a phenyl , bonded to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds...

     rings. The anthocyanin
    Anthocyanin
    Anthocyanins are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue according to pH...

    s that give grapes their purple color, the isoflavone
    Isoflavone
    Isoflavones comprise a class of organic compounds, often naturally occurring, related to the isoflavonoids. Many act as phytoestrogens in mammals...

    s, the phytoestrogens from soy and the tannin
    Tannin
    A tannin is an astringent, bitter plant polyphenolic compound that binds to and precipitates proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids.The term tannin refers to the use of...

    s that give tea its astringency are phenolics.
  • Terpenoids are built up from terpene
    Terpene
    Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants, particularly conifers, though also by some insects such as termites or swallowtail butterflies, which emit terpenes from their osmeterium. They are often strong smelling and thus may have had a protective...

     building blocks. Each terpene consists of two paired isoprene
    Isoprene
    Isoprene , or 2-methyl-1,3-butadiene, is a common organic compound with the formula CH2=CCH=CH2. Under standard conditions it is a colorless liquid...

    s. The names monoterpene
    Monoterpene
    Monoterpenes are a class of terpenes that consist of two isoprene units and have the molecular formula C10H16. Monoterpenes may be linear or contain rings...

    s, sesquiterpene
    Sesquiterpene
    Sesquiterpenes are a class of terpenes that consist of three isoprene units and have the molecular formula C15H24. Like monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes may be acyclic or contain rings, including many unique combinations...

    s, diterpene
    Diterpene
    Diterpenes are a type of terpenes composed of four isoprene units. They derive from geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate. Diterpenes form the basis for biologically important compounds such as retinol, retinal, and phytol...

    s and triterpene
    Triterpene
    Triterpenes are terpenes consisting of six isoprene units and have the molecular formula C30H48.The pentacyclic triterpenes can be classified into lupane, oleanane or ursane groups.Animal- and plant-derived triterpenes exist, such as:*squalene...

    s are based on the number of isoprene units. The fragrance of rose
    Rose
    A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows...

     and lavender
    Lavender
    The lavenders are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. An Old World genus, distributed from Macaronesia across Africa, the Mediterranean, South-West Asia, Arabia, Western Iran and South-East India...

     is due to monoterpenes. The carotenoid
    Carotenoid
    Carotenoids are tetraterpenoid organic pigments that are naturally occurring in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants and some other photosynthetic organisms like algae, some bacteria, and some types of fungus. Carotenoids can be synthesized fats and other basic organic metabolic building...

    s produce the reds, yellows and oranges of pumpkin
    Pumpkin
    A pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae . It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America...

    , corn
    Maize
    Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

     and tomatoes.
  • Glycoside
    Glycoside
    In chemistry, a glycoside is a molecule in which a sugar is bound to a non-carbohydrate moiety, usually a small organic molecule. Glycosides play numerous important roles in living organisms. Many plants store chemicals in the form of inactive glycosides. These can be activated by enzyme...

    s consist of a glucose
    Glucose
    Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

     moiety attached to an aglycone
    Aglycone
    An aglycone is the non-sugar compound remaining after replacement of the glycosyl group from a glycoside by a hydrogen atom. The spelling aglycon is sometimes encountered .Classes of phytochemicals found in the aglycone and glycosides forms :...

    . The aglycone is a molecule that is bioactive in its free form but inert until the glycoside bond is broken by water or enzymes. This mechanism allows the plant to defer the availability of the molecule to an appropriate time, similar to a safety lock on a gun. An example is the cyanoglycosides in cherry pits that release toxins only when bitten by a herbivore
    Herbivore
    Herbivores are organisms that are anatomically and physiologically adapted to eat plant-based foods. Herbivory is a form of consumption in which an organism principally eats autotrophs such as plants, algae and photosynthesizing bacteria. More generally, organisms that feed on autotrophs in...

    .


The word drug itself comes from the Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 word "droog" (via the French word Drogue), which means 'dried plant'. Some examples are inulin
Inulin
Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants. They belong to a class of fibers known as fructans. Inulin is used by some plants as a means of storing energy and is typically found in roots or rhizomes...

 from the roots of dahlia
Dahlia
Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberous, perennial plants native to Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. There are at least 36 species of dahlia, some like D. imperialis up to 10 metres tall. Dahlia hybrids are commonly grown as garden plants...

s, quinine
Quinine
Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic , antimalarial, analgesic , anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic...

 from the cinchona
Cinchona
Cinchona or Quina is a genus of about 38 species in the family Rubiaceae, native to tropical South America. They are large shrubs or small trees growing 5–15 metres in height with evergreen foliage. The leaves are opposite, rounded to lanceolate and 10–40 cm long. The flowers are white, pink...

, morphine
Morphine
Morphine is a potent opiate analgesic medication and is considered to be the prototypical opioid. It was first isolated in 1804 by Friedrich Sertürner, first distributed by same in 1817, and first commercially sold by Merck in 1827, which at the time was a single small chemists' shop. It was more...

 and codeine
Codeine
Codeine or 3-methylmorphine is an opiate used for its analgesic, antitussive, and antidiarrheal properties...

 from the poppy
Poppy
A poppy is one of a group of a flowering plants in the poppy family, many of which are grown in gardens for their colorful flowers. Poppies are sometimes used for symbolic reasons, such as in remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime....

, and digoxin
Digoxin
Digoxin INN , also known as digitalis, is a purified cardiac glycoside and extracted from the foxglove plant, Digitalis lanata. Its corresponding aglycone is digoxigenin, and its acetyl derivative is acetyldigoxin...

 from the foxglove
Digitalis
Digitalis is a genus of about 20 species of herbaceous perennials, shrubs, and biennials that are commonly called foxgloves. This genus was traditionally placed in the figwort family Scrophulariaceae, but recent reviews of phylogenetic research have placed it in the much enlarged family...

.

The active ingredient in willow
Willow
Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix, around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs, found primarily on moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

 bark, once prescribed by Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

, is salicin, which is converted in the body into salicylic acid
Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is a monohydroxybenzoic acid, a type of phenolic acid and a beta hydroxy acid. This colorless crystalline organic acid is widely used in organic synthesis and functions as a plant hormone. It is derived from the metabolism of salicin...

. The discovery of salicylic acid would eventually lead to the development of the acetylated form acetylsalicylic acid, also known as "aspirin
Aspirin
Aspirin , also known as acetylsalicylic acid , is a salicylate drug, often used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication. It was discovered by Arthur Eichengrun, a chemist with the German company Bayer...

", when it was isolated from a plant known as meadowsweet
Meadowsweet
Filipendula ulmaria, commonly known as Meadowsweet, is a perennial herb in the family Rosaceae that grows in damp meadows. It is native throughout most of Europe and Western Asia...

. The word aspirin comes from an abbreviation of meadowsweet's Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 genus Spiraea, with an additional "A" at the beginning to acknowledge acetylation, and "in" was added at the end for easier pronunciation. "Aspirin" was originally a brand name, and is still a protected trademark in some countries. This medication was patented by Bayer AG.

Herbal philosophy


Four approaches to the use of plants as medicine include:

1. The magical/shamanic

Almost all non-modern societies recognise this kind of use. The practitioner is regarded as endowed with gifts or powers that allow him/her to use herbs in a way that is hidden from the average person, and the herbs are said to affect the spirit or soul of the person.

2. The energetic

This approach includes the major systems of TCM, Ayurveda, and Unani. Herbs are regarded as having actions in terms of their energies and affecting the energies of the body. The practitioner may have extensive training, and ideally be sensitive to energy, but need not have supernatural powers.

3. The functional dynamic

This approach was used by early physiomedical practitioners, whose doctrine forms the basis of contemporary practice in the UK. Herbs have a functional action, which is not necessarily linked to a physical compound, although often to a physiological function, but there is no explicit recourse to concepts involving energy.

4. The chemical

Modern practitioners - called Phytotherapists - attempt to explain herb actions in terms of their chemical constituents. It is generally assumed that the specific combination of secondary metabolites in the plant are responsible for the activity claimed or demonstrated, a concept called synergy.

Most modern herbalists concede that pharmaceuticals are more effective in emergency situations where time is of the essence. An example would be where a patient had an acute heart attack that posed imminent danger. However they claim that over the long term herbs can help the patient resist disease, and that in addition, they provide nutritional and immunological support that pharmaceuticals lack. They view their goal as prevention as well as cure.

Herbalists tend to use extracts from parts of plants, such as the roots or leaves but not isolate particular phytochemicals. Pharmaceutical medicine prefers single ingredients on the grounds that dosage can be more easily quantified. It is also possible to patent single compounds, and therefore generate income. Herbalists often reject the notion of a single active ingredient, arguing that the different phytochemicals present in many herbs will interact to enhance the therapeutic effects of the herb and dilute toxicity. Furthermore, they argue that a single ingredient may contribute to multiple effects. Herbalists deny that herbal synergism can be duplicated with synthetic chemicals. They argue that phytochemical interactions and trace components may alter the drug response in ways that cannot currently be replicated with a combination of a few putative active ingredients. Pharmaceutical researchers recognize the concept of drug synergism but note that clinical trials may be used to investigate the efficacy of a particular herbal preparation, provided the formulation of that herb is consistent.
In specific cases the claims of synergy and multifunctionality have been supported by science. The open question is how widely both can be generalized. Herbalists would argue that cases of synergy can be widely generalized, on the basis of their interpretation of evolutionary history, not necessarily shared by the pharmaceutical community. Plants are subject to similar selection pressures as humans and therefore they must develop resistance to threats such as radiation, reactive oxygen species
Reactive oxygen species
Reactive oxygen species are chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen. Examples include oxygen ions and peroxides. Reactive oxygen species are highly reactive due to the presence of unpaired valence shell electrons....

 and microbial attack in order to survive. Optimal chemical defenses have been selected for and have thus developed over millions of years. Human diseases are multifactorial and may be treated by consuming the chemical defences that they believe to be present in herbs. Bacteria, inflammation, nutrition and ROS (reactive oxygen species) may all play a role in arterial disease. Herbalists claim a single herb may simultaneously address several of these factors. Likewise a factor such as ROS may underlie more than one condition. In short herbalists view their field as the study of a web of relationships rather than a quest for single cause and a single cure for a single condition.

In selecting herbal treatments herbalists may use forms of information that are not applicable to pharmacists. Because herbs can moonlight as vegetables, teas or spices they have a huge consumer base and large-scale epidemiological studies become feasible. Ethnobotanical studies are another source of information. For example, when indigenous peoples from geographically dispersed areas use closely related herbs for the same purpose that is taken as supporting evidence for its efficacy. Herbalists contend that historical medical records and herbals are underutilized resources. They favor the use of convergent information in assessing the medical value of plants. An example would be when in-vitro activity is consistent with traditional use.

Popularity


A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine focused on who used complementary and alternative medicines
Alternative medicine
Alternative medicine is any healing practice, "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine." It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence....

 (CAM), what was used, and why it was used. The survey was limited to adults, aged 18 years and over during 2002, living in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

According to this survey, herbal therapy, or use of natural products other than vitamin
Vitamin
A vitamin is an organic compound required as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism. In other words, an organic chemical compound is called a vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from the diet. Thus, the term is conditional both on...

s and minerals, was the most commonly used CAM therapy (18.9%) when all use of prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 was excluded.

Herbal remedies are very common in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. In Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, herbal medications are dispensed by apothecaries (e.g., Apotheke). Prescription drugs are sold alongside essential oils, herbal extracts, or herbal teas. Herbal remedies are seen by some as a treatment to be preferred to pure medical compounds which have been industrially produced.

In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the training of medical herbalists is done by state funded Universities. For example, Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 degrees in herbal medicine are offered at Universities such as University of East London
University of East London
The University of East London is a university located in the London Borough of Newham, East London, England, based at two campuses in Stratford and Docklands areas...

, Middlesex University
Middlesex University
Middlesex University is a university in north London, England. It is located in the historic county boundaries of Middlesex from which it takes its name. It is one of the post-1992 universities and is a member of Million+ working group...

, University of Central Lancashire
University of Central Lancashire
The University of Central Lancashire is a university based in Preston, Lancashire, England.The university has its roots in The Institution For The Diffusion Of Useful Knowledge which was founded in 1828. In 1992 it was granted University status by the Privy Council...

, University of Westminster
University of Westminster
The University of Westminster is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom. Its origins go back to the foundation of the Royal Polytechnic Institution in 1838, and it was awarded university status in 1992.The university's headquarters and original campus are based on Regent...

, University of Lincoln
University of Lincoln
The University of Lincoln is an English university founded in 1992, with origins tracing back to the foundation and association with the Hull School of Art 1861....

 and Napier University
Napier University
Edinburgh Napier is one of the largest higher education institutions in Scotland with over 17,000 students, including nearly 5,000 international students, from more than 100 nations worldwide.-History:...

 in Edinburgh at the present. Avid public interest in herbalism in the UK has been recently confirmed by the popularity of the topic in mainstream media, such as the prime-time hit TV series BBC's Grow Your Own Drugs
Grow Your Own Drugs
Grow Your Own Drugs is a British television documentary series, first broadcast on BBC Two, exploring the many remedies which can be provided by plants. James Wong, an ethnobotanist, presents the series and takes the view that people should start making their own remedies in order to save money and...

,which demonstrated how to grow and prepare herbal remedies at home.

In the United States, a Bachelor of Science degree in herbal sciences is offered at Bastyr University
Bastyr University
Bastyr University was established as the John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1978 in Seattle, Washington by Sheila Quinn, Joseph Pizzorno, ND, LM; William Mitchell, ND; and Les Griffith, ND, LM...

, and a Master of Science in herbal medicine
is offered at Tai Sophia Institute. There are also many smaller organizations and teachers offering certifications.

A 2004 Cochrane Collaboration
Cochrane Collaboration
The Cochrane Collaboration is a group of over 28,000 volunteers in more than 100 countries who review the effects of health care interventions tested in biomedical randomized controlled trials. A few more recent reviews have also studied the results of non-randomized, observational studies...

 review found that some herbal therapies are supported by strong evidence but are not widely used in all clinical settings.

Types of herbal medicine systems



Use of medicinal plants can be as informal as, for example, culinary use or consumption of an herbal tea or supplement, although the sale of some herbs considered dangerous is often restricted to the public. Sometimes such herbs are provided to professional herbalists by specialist companies. Many herbalists, both professional and amateur, often grow or "wildcraft
Wildcrafting
Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or "wild" habitat, for food or medicinal purposes. It applies to uncultivated plants wherever they may be found, and is not necessarily limited to wilderness areas...

" their own herbs.

Some researchers trained in both western and traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

 have attempted to deconstruct ancient medical texts in the light of modern science. One idea is that the yin-yang balance, at least with regard to herbs, corresponds to the pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant balance. This interpretation is supported by several investigations of the ORAC
Oxygen radical absorbance capacity
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity is a method of measuring antioxidant capacities in biological samples in vitro.A wide variety of foods has been tested using this method, with certain spices, berries and legumes rated highly. There exists no physiological proof in vivo that free-radical theory...

 ratings of various yin and yang herbs.

In America, early settlers relied on plants imported from Europe, and also from local Indian knowledge. One particularly successful practitioner, Samuel Thomson
Samuel Thomson
Samuel Thomson was a self-taught American herbalist and founder of the alternative system of medicine known as "Thomsonian Medicine", which enjoyed wide popularity in the United States during the 19th century.-Early life:...

 developed a hugely popular system of medicine. This approach was subsequently broadened to include concepts introduced from modern physiology, a discipline called Physiomedicalism. Another group, the Eclectics
Eclectic medicine
Eclectic medicine was a branch of American medicine which made use of botanical remedies along with other substances and physical therapy practices, popular in the latter half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries....

, were a later offshoot from the orthodox medical profession, who were looking to avoid the then current medical treatments of mercury and bleeding, and introduced herbal medicine into their practices. Both groups were eventually overcome by the actions of the American Medical Association
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association , founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1897, is the largest association of medical doctors and medical students in the United States.-Scope and operations:...

, which was formed for this purpose. Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

 medicine tends to divide herbs into foods, medicines and toxins and to use seven plants in the treatment of disease, which is defined with both spiritual and physiological aspects, according to Cherokee herbalist David Winston
David Winston
David Winston RH is an American herbalist and ethnobotanist. He has been in practice and teaching since 1977 and has written several books on the subject. He works in the Cherokee, Chinese and the Western eclectic herbal traditions...

.

In India, Ayurvedic medicine has quite complex formulas with 30 or more ingredients, including a sizable number of ingredients that have undergone "alchemical processing
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

", chosen to balance "Vata
Vata
Vata may refer to:*Vāta, another name for Vāyu*A particular Zoroastrian divinity, one half of the pair Vata-Vayu*Vata , one of the three dosha in Ayurveda, ancient Hindu science of health and medicine* Vata, Sanskrit word for the Banyan tree....

", "Pitta
Pitta
Pitta may stand for:*Pittas, a family of tropical birds*Pitta bread *Pitta , an island in the Dodecanese archipelago, in the Aegean Sea...

" or "Kapha."

In Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, Tamils have their own medicinal system now popularly called the Siddha medicinal system. The Siddha system is entirely in the Tamil language
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

. It contains roughly 300,000 verses covering diverse aspects of medicine such as anatomy, sex ("kokokam" is the sexual treatise of par excellence), herbal, mineral and metallic compositions to cure many diseases that are relevant even to-day. Ayurveda is in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, but Sanskrit was not generally used as a mother tongue and hence its medines are mostly taken from Siddha and other local traditions.

In addition there are more modern theories of herbal combination like William LeSassier
William LeSassier
William LeSassier was an influential herbalist and acupuncturist who lived from 1948 to 2003. He developed William’s Triune System of Formulation which continues to be taught by herbalists such as David Winston who has significantly expanded LeSassier's materia medica...

's triune formula which combined Pythagorean imagery
Pythagoreanism
Pythagoreanism was the system of esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans, who were considerably influenced by mathematics. Pythagoreanism originated in the 5th century BCE and greatly influenced Platonism...

 with Chinese medicine ideas and resulted in 9 herb formulas which supplemented, drained or neutrally nourished the main organ systems affected and three associated systems. His system has been taught to thousands of influential American herbalists through his own apprenticeship programs during his lifetime, the William LeSassier Archive and the David Winston Center for Herbal Studies. Different chemicals in herbs are more abundant than in a single drug. Some chemicals in herbs may work as growth hormones or antibiotics, nutrients, and toxin neutralizers.

Many traditional African remedies have performed well in initial laboratory tests to ensure they are not toxic and in tests on animals. Gawo, a herb used in traditional treatments, has been tested in rats by researchers from Nigeria's University of Jos and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development. According to research in the African Journal of Biotechnology, Gawo passed tests for toxicity and reduced induced fevers, diarrhoea and inflammation

Routes of administration


The exact composition of a herbal product is influenced by the method of extraction. A tisane
Tisane
A herbal tea, tisane, or ptisan is a herbal or plant infusion and usually not made from the leaves of the tea bush . Typically, herbal tea is simply the combination of boiling water and dried fruits, flowers or herbs. Herbal tea has been imbibed for nearly as long as written history extends...

 will be rich in polar
Chemical polarity
In chemistry, polarity refers to a separation of electric charge leading to a molecule or its chemical groups having an electric dipole or multipole moment. Polar molecules interact through dipole–dipole intermolecular forces and hydrogen bonds. Molecular polarity is dependent on the difference in...

 components because water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 is a polar solvent. Oil on the other hand is a non-polar solvent and it will absorb non-polar compounds. Alcohol lies somewhere in between. There are many forms in which herbs can be administered, these include:
  • Tincture
    Tincture
    A tincture is an alcoholic extract or solution of a non-volatile substance . To qualify as a tincture, the alcoholic extract is to have an ethanol percentage of at least 40-60%...

    s - Alcoholic extracts of herbs such as Echinacea extract. Usually obtained by combining 100% pure ethanol (or a mixture of 100% ethanol with water) with the herb. A completed tincture has a ethanol percentage of at least 25% (sometimes up to 90%). The term tincture is sometimes applied to preparations using other solvents than ethanol.
  • Herbal wine and elixir
    Elixir
    An elixir is a clear, sweet-flavored liquid used for medicinal purposes, to be taken orally and intended to cure one's ills. When used as a pharmaceutical preparation, an elixir contains at least one active ingredient designed to be taken orally....

    s - These are alcoholic extract of herbs; usually with an ethanol percentage of 12-38% Herbal wine is a maceration of herbs in wine, while an elixir is a maceration of herbs in spirits (e.g., vodka
    Vodka
    Vodka , is a distilled beverage. It is composed primarily of water and ethanol with traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made by the distillation of fermented substances such as grains, potatoes, or sometimes fruits....

    , grappa
    Grappa
    Grappa is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35%–60% alcohol by volume...

    , etc.)
  • Tisane
    Tisane
    A herbal tea, tisane, or ptisan is a herbal or plant infusion and usually not made from the leaves of the tea bush . Typically, herbal tea is simply the combination of boiling water and dried fruits, flowers or herbs. Herbal tea has been imbibed for nearly as long as written history extends...

    s - Hot water extracts of herb, such as chamomile.
  • Decoction
    Decoction
    Decoction is a method of extraction, by boiling, of dissolved chemicals, or herbal or plant material, which may include stems, roots, bark and rhizomes. Decoction involves first mashing, and then boiling in water to extract oils, volatile organic compounds, and other chemical substances...

    s - Long-term boiled extract of usually roots or bark.
  • Macerates - Cold infusion of plants with high mucilage
    Mucilage
    Mucilage is a thick, gluey substance produced by most plants and some microorganisms. It is a polar glycoprotein and an exopolysaccharide.It occurs in various parts of nearly all classes of plant, usually in relatively small percentages, and is frequently associated with other substances, such as...

    -content as sage
    Common sage
    Salvia officinalis is a small, perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world...

    , thyme
    Thyme
    Thyme is a culinary and medicinal herb of the genus Thymus.-History:Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage...

    , etc. Plants are chopped and added to cold water. They are then left to stand for 7 to 12 hours (depending on herb used). For most macerates 10 hours is used.
  • Vinegars - Prepared at the same way as tinctures, except using a solution of acetic acid
    Acetic acid
    Acetic acid is an organic compound with the chemical formula CH3CO2H . It is a colourless liquid that when undiluted is also called glacial acetic acid. Acetic acid is the main component of vinegar , and has a distinctive sour taste and pungent smell...

     as the solvent
    Solvent
    A solvent is a liquid, solid, or gas that dissolves another solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution that is soluble in a certain volume of solvent at a specified temperature...

    .
  • Topical
    Topical
    In medicine, a topical medication is applied to body surfaces such as the skin or mucous membranes such as the vagina, anus, throat, eyes and ears.Many topical medications are epicutaneous, meaning that they are applied directly to the skin...

    s:
    • Essential oil
      Essential oil
      An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove...

      s - Application of essential oil extracts, usually diluted in a carrier oil (many essential oils can burn the skin or are simply too high dose used straight – diluting in olive oil or another food grade oil such as almond oil can allow these to be used safely as a topical).
    • Salves, oils, balm
      Balm
      Balm can refer to:*Liniment, a topical medical preparation*Melissa , a plant genus, particularly the species commonly known as Lemon balm*Balm of Gilead, a medicinal resin from the North American species Populus candicans...

      s, creams and lotions - Most topical applications are oil extractions of herbs. Taking a food grade oil and soaking herbs in it for anywhere from weeks to months allows certain phytochemicals to be extracted into the oil. This oil can then be made into salves, creams, lotions, or simply used as an oil for topical application. Any massage oils, antibacterial salves and wound healing compounds are made this way.
    • Poultice
      Poultice
      A poultice, also called cataplasm, is a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated, that is spread on cloth over the skin to treat an aching, inflamed, or painful part of the body. It can be used on wounds such as cuts...

      s and compresses - One can also make a poultice or compress using whole herb (or the appropriate part of the plant) usually crushed or dried and re-hydrated with a small amount of water and then applied directly in a bandage, cloth or just as is.
  • Whole herb consumption - This can occur in either dried form (herbal powder), or fresh
    Fresh
    Fresh is a 1994 crime film written and directed by Boaz Yakin in his film directorial debut, and produced by Lawrence Bender , who at the time was riding the wave of success of Reservoir Dogs...

     juice
    Juice
    Juice is the liquid that is naturally contained in fruit or vegetable tissue.Juice is prepared by mechanically squeezing or macerating fruit or vegetable flesh without the application of heat or solvents. For example, orange juice is the liquid extract of the fruit of the orange tree...

    , (fresh leaves and other plant parts).
  • Syrup
    Syrup
    In cooking, a syrup is a thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water, containing a large amount of dissolved sugars but showing little tendency to deposit crystals...

    s - Extracts of herbs made with syrup or honey
    Honey
    Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

    . Sixty five parts of sugar are mixed with 35 parts of water and herb. The whole is then boiled and macerated for three weeks.
  • Extract
    Extract
    An extract is a substance made by extracting a part of a raw material, often by using a solvent such as ethanol or water. Extracts may be sold as tinctures or in powder form....

    s - Include liquid extracts, dry extracts and nebulisates. Liquid extracts are liquids with a lower ethanol percentage than tinctures. They can (and are usually) made by vacuum distilling
    Distillation
    Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction....

     tinctures. Dry extracts are extracts of plant material which are evaporated into a dry mass. They can then be further refined to a capsule or tablet. A nebulisate is a dry extract created by freeze-drying.
  • Inhalation
    Inhalation
    Inhalation is the movement of air from the external environment, through the air ways, and into the alveoli....

     as in aromatherapy
    Aromatherapy
    Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses volatile plant materials, known as essential oils, and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering a person's mind, mood, cognitive function or health....

     can be used as a mood changing treatment to fight a sinus infection or cough , or to cleanse the skin on a deeper level (steam rather than direct inhalation here)

Safety


A number of herbs are thought to be likely to cause adverse effects. Furthermore, "adulteration, inappropriate formulation, or lack of understanding of plant and drug interactions have led to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening or lethal." Proper double-blind clinical trials are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of each plant before they can be recommended for medical use. Although many consumers believe that herbal medicines are safe because they are "natural", herbal medicines and synthetic drugs may interact, causing toxicity to the patient. Herbal remedies can also be dangerously contaminated, and herbal medicines without established efficacy, may unknowingly be used to replace medicines that do have corroborated efficacy.

Standardization of purity and dosage is not mandated in the United States, but even products made to the same specification may differ as a result of biochemical variations within a species of plant. Plants have chemical defense mechanisms against predators that can have adverse or lethal effects on humans. Examples of highly toxic herbs include poison hemlock and nightshade. They are not marketed to the public as herbs, because the risks are well known, partly due to a long and colorful history in Europe, associated with "sorcery", "magic" and intrigue. Although not frequent, adverse reactions have been reported for herbs in widespread use. On occasion serious untoward outcomes have been linked to herb consumption. A case of major potassium depletion has been attributed to chronic licorice ingestion., and consequently professional herbalists avoid the use of licorice where they recognise that this may be a risk. Black cohosh has been implicated in a case of liver failure.
Few studies are available on the safety of herbs for pregnant women, and one study found that use of complementary and alternative medicines are associated with a 30% lower ongoing pregnancy and live birth rate during fertility treatment. Examples of herbal treatments with likely cause-effect relationships with adverse events include aconite, which is often a legally restricted herb, ayurvedic remedies, broom, chaparral, Chinese herb mixtures, comfrey, herbs containing certain flavonoids, germander, guar gum, liquorice root, and pennyroyal. Examples of herbs where a high degree of confidence of a risk long term adverse effects can be asserted include ginseng, which is unpopular among herbalists for this reason, the endangered herb goldenseal, milk thistle, senna, against which herbalists generally advise and rarely use, aloe vera juice, buckthorn bark and berry, cascara sagrada bark, saw palmetto, valerian, kava, which is banned in the European Union, St. John's wort, Khat, Betel nut, the restricted herb Ephedra, and Guarana.

There is also concern with respect to the numerous well-established interactions of herbs and drugs. In consultation with a physician, usage of herbal remedies should be clarified, as some herbal remedies have the potential to cause adverse drug interactions when used in combination with various prescription and over-the-counter
Over-the-counter drug
Over-the-counter drugs are medicines that may be sold directly to a consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional, as compared to prescription drugs, which may be sold only to consumers possessing a valid prescription...

 pharmaceuticals, just as a patient should inform a herbalist of their consumption of orthodox prescription and other medication.

For example, dangerously low blood pressure may result from the combination of an herbal remedy that lowers blood pressure together with prescription medicine that has the same effect. Some herbs may amplify the effects of anticoagulants.
Certain herbs as well as common fruit interfere with cytochrome P450, an enzyme critical to much drug metabolism.

Name confusion


The common names of herbs (folk taxonomy
Folk taxonomy
A folk taxonomy is a vernacular naming system, and can be contrasted with scientific taxonomy. Folk biological classification is the way peoples describe and organize their natural surroundings/the world around them, typically making generous use of form taxa like "shrubs", "bugs", "ducks",...

) may not reflect differences in scientific taxonomy
Taxonomy
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

, and the same (or a very similar) common name might group together different plant species with different effects.

For example, in 1993 in Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, medical doctors created a formula including some Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

 (TCM) herbs for weight loss. One herb (Stephania
Stephania
Stephania is a genus of flowering plants in the family Menispermaceae, native to eastern and southern Asia and Australasia. They are herbaceous perennial vines growing to around four metres tall, with a large, woody caudex. The leaves are arranged spirally on the stem, and are peltate, with the...

 tetrandra
) was swapped for another (Aristolochia
Aristolochia
Aristolochia is a large plant genus with over 500 species. Collectively known as birthworts, pipevines or Dutchman's pipes, they are the namesake of the family . They are widespread and occur in the most diverse climates. Some species, like A. utriformis and A...

 fangchi
) whose name in Chinese was extremely similar but which contained higher levels of a renal
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

 toxin
Toxin
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; man-made substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded...

, aristolochic acid
Aristolochic acid
Aristolochic acids are a family of carcinogenic, mutagenic, and nephrotoxic compounds commonly found in the Aristolochiaceae family of plants, including Aristolochia and Asarum, which are commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine. Aristolochic acid I is the most abundant of the aristolochic acids...

; this mistake resulted in 105 cases of kidney damage
Renal failure
Renal failure or kidney failure describes a medical condition in which the kidneys fail to adequately filter toxins and waste products from the blood...

.

Note that neither herb used in a TCM
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to a broad range of medicine practices sharing common theoretical concepts which have been developed in China and are based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, including various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage , exercise , and dietary therapy...

 context would be used for weight loss or given for long periods of time. In Chinese medicine these herbs are used for certain forms of acute arthritis
Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

 and edema
Edema
Edema or oedema ; both words from the Greek , oídēma "swelling"), formerly known as dropsy or hydropsy, is an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body that produces swelling...

.

For this reason, Western herbalists use binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature
Binomial nomenclature is a formal system of naming species of living things by giving each a name composed of two parts, both of which use Latin grammatical forms, although they can be based on words from other languages...

 in their terminology within the profession.

Effectiveness


The highest standard for pharmaceutical testing
Experiment
An experiment is a methodical procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results...

 is repeated, small-scale, randomized, double-blind tests. In 2002 the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

 began funding clinical trial
Clinical trial
Clinical trials are a set of procedures in medical research and drug development that are conducted to allow safety and efficacy data to be collected for health interventions...

s into the effectiveness of herbal medicine. In a 2010 survey of 1000 plants, 356 had clinical trials published evaluating their "pharmacological activities and therapeutic applications" while 12% of the plants, although available in the Western market, had "no substantial studies" of their properties.

Many herbs have shown positive results in-vitro, animal model or small-scale clinical tests but many studies on herbal treatments have also found negative results. The quality of the trials on herbal remedies is highly variable and many trials of herbal treatments have been found to be of poor quality, with many trials lacking an intention to treat analysis
Intention to treat analysis
In epidemiology, an intention to treat analysis is an analysis based on the initial treatment intent, not on the treatment eventually administered. ITT analysis is intended to avoid various misleading artifacts that can arise in intervention research...

 or a comment on whether blinding was successful. The few randomized, double-blind tests that receive attention in medical publications are often questioned on methodological grounds or interpretation. Likewise, studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals such as Journal of the American Medical Association
Journal of the American Medical Association
The Journal of the American Medical Association is a weekly, peer-reviewed, medical journal, published by the American Medical Association. Beginning in July 2011, the editor in chief will be Howard C. Bauchner, vice chairman of pediatrics at Boston University’s School of Medicine, replacing ...

 receive more consideration than those published in specialized herbal journals.

One study found that non-impact factor
Impact factor
The impact factor, often abbreviated IF, is a measure reflecting the average number of citations to articles published in science and social science journals. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field, with journals with higher impact factors deemed...

 alternative medicine journals published more studies with positive results than negative results and that trials finding positive results were of lower quality than trials finding negative results. High impact factor mainstream medical journals, on the other hand, published equal numbers of trials with positive and negative results. In high impact journals, trials finding positive results were also found to have lower quality scores than trials finding negative results. Another study reported that some clinical studies of herbal medicines were not inferior to similar medical studies. However, this study used a matched pair design and excluded all herbal trials that were not controlled
Randomized controlled trial
A randomized controlled trial is a type of scientific experiment - a form of clinical trial - most commonly used in testing the safety and efficacy or effectiveness of healthcare services or health technologies A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is a type of scientific experiment - a form of...

, did not use a placebo or did not use random
Randomization
Randomization is the process of making something random; this means:* Generating a random permutation of a sequence .* Selecting a random sample of a population ....

 or quasi random assignment.

Herbalists criticize mainstream studies on the grounds that they make insufficient use of historical usage, which has been shown useful in drug discovery and development in the past and present They maintain that tradition can guide the selection of factors such as optimal dose, species, time of harvesting and target population.

Dosage is in general an outstanding issue for herbal treatments: while most medicines are heavily tested to determine the most effective and safest dosages (especially in relation to things like body weight, drug interactions, etc.), there are fewer varieties of dosages for various herbal treatments on the market. Furthermore, from a conventional pharmacological perspective, herbal medicines taken in whole form cannot generally guarantee a consistent dosage or drug quality, since certain samples may contain more or less of a given active ingredient.

Several methods of standardization may be applied to herbs. One is the ratio of raw materials to solvent. However different specimens of even the same plant species may vary in chemical content. For this reason, thin layer chromatography
Thin layer chromatography
Thin layer chromatography is a chromatography technique used to separate mixtures. Thin layer chromatography is performed on a sheet of glass, plastic, or aluminum foil, which is coated with a thin layer of adsorbent material, usually silica gel, aluminium oxide, or cellulose...

 is sometimes used by growers to assess the content of their products before use. Another method is standardization on a signal chemical.

Standards and quality control



The issue of regulation is an area of continuing controversy in the EU
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. At one end of the spectrum, some herbalists maintain that traditional remedies have a long history of use
Appeal to tradition
Appeal to tradition is a common fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition...

, and do not require the level of safety testing as xenobiotic
Xenobiotic
A xenobiotic is a chemical which is found in an organism but which is not normally produced or expected to be present in it. It can also cover substances which are present in much higher concentrations than are usual...

s or single ingredients in an artificially concentrated form. On the other hand, others are in favor of legally enforced quality standards, safety testing and prescription by a qualified practitioner. Some professional herbalist organizations have made statements calling for a category of regulation for herbal products. Yet others agree with the need for more quality testing but believe it can be managed through reputation without government intervention. The legal status of herbal ingredients varies by country.

In the EU, herbal medicines are now regulated under the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products
European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products
The European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products formallyThe Directive 2004/24/EC amending, as regards traditional herbal medicinal products, Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use was established by the European Parliament and...

.

In the United States, most herbal remedies are regulated as dietary supplements by the Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers of products falling into this category are not required to prove the safety or efficacy of their product, though the FDA may withdraw a product from sale should it prove harmful.

The National Nutritional Foods Association, the industry's largest trade association, has run a program since 2002, examining the products and factory conditions of member companies, giving them the right to display the GMP
Good Manufacturing Practice
"Good manufacturing practice" or "GMP" are practices and the systems required to be adapted in pharmaceutical manufacturing, quality control, quality system covering the manufacture and testing of pharmaceuticals or drugs including active pharmaceutical ingredients, diagnostics, foods,...

 (Good Manufacturing Practices
Good Manufacturing Practice
"Good manufacturing practice" or "GMP" are practices and the systems required to be adapted in pharmaceutical manufacturing, quality control, quality system covering the manufacture and testing of pharmaceuticals or drugs including active pharmaceutical ingredients, diagnostics, foods,...

) seal of approval on their products.

In the UK, herbal remedies that are bought over the counter
Over-the-counter drug
Over-the-counter drugs are medicines that may be sold directly to a consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional, as compared to prescription drugs, which may be sold only to consumers possessing a valid prescription...

 are regulated as supplements, as in the US. However, herbal remedies prescribed and dispensed by a qualified "Medical Herbalist
Herbalist
An herbalist is:#A person whose life is dedicated to the economic or medicinal uses of plants.#One skilled in the harvesting and collection of medicinal plants ....

", after a personal consultation, are regulated as medicines.

A Medical Herbalist can prescribe some herbs which are not available over the counter, covered by Schedule III of the Medicines Act
Medicines Act 1968
The Medicines Act 1968 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom. It governs the manufacture and supply of medicine.The act defines three categories of medicine: prescription only medicines , which are available only from a pharmacist if prescribed by an appropriate practitioner; pharmacy...

. Forthcoming changes to laws regulating herbal products in the UK, are intended to ensure the quality of herbal products used.

Some herbs, such as cannabis
Cannabis
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes three putative species, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. These three taxa are indigenous to Central Asia, and South Asia. Cannabis has long been used for fibre , for seed and seed oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a...

 and coca
Coca
Coca, Erythroxylum coca, is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in many traditional Andean cultures...

, are outright banned in most countries. Since 2004, the sales of ephedra
Ephedra
Ephedra refers to the plant Ephedra sinica. E. sinica, known in Chinese as ma huang , has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years for the treatment of asthma and hay fever, as well as for the common cold...

 as a dietary supplement is prohibited in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration., and subject to Schedule III restrictions in the United Kingdom.

Danger of extinction


Because "over 50% of prescription drugs are derived from chemicals first identified in plants," a 2008 report from the Botanic Gardens Conservation International
Botanic Gardens Conservation International
Botanic Gardens Conservation International is a plant conservation charity based in London, England. It is a membership organisation, working with 800 botanic gardens in 118 countries, whose combined work forms the world's largest plant conservation network.Founded in 1987, BGCI is a registered...

 (representing botanic gardens in 120 countries) warned that "cures for things such as cancer and HIV may become 'extinct before they are ever found'." They identified 400 medicinal plants at risk of extinction from over-collection and deforestation, threatening the discovery of future cures for disease. These included Yew tree
Taxus brevifolia
Taxus brevifolia is a conifer native to the Pacific Northwest of North America. It ranges from southernmost Alaska south to central California, mostly in the Pacific Coast Ranges, but with an isolated disjunct population in southeast British Columbia, most notably occurring on Zuckerberg Island...

s (the bark is used for the cancer drug paclitaxel
Paclitaxel
Paclitaxel is a mitotic inhibitor used in cancer chemotherapy. It was discovered in a U.S. National Cancer Institute program at the Research Triangle Institute in 1967 when Monroe E. Wall and Mansukh C. Wani isolated it from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, Taxus brevifolia and named it taxol...

); Hoodia
Hoodia
Hoodia is a genus of 13 species in the flowering plant family Apocynaceae, under the subfamily Asclepiadoideae. They are stem succulents, described as "cactiform" because of their remarkable similarity to the unrelated cactus family...

 (from Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

, a potential source of weight loss
Weight loss
Weight loss, in the context of medicine, health or physical fitness, is a reduction of the total body mass, due to a mean loss of fluid, body fat or adipose tissue and/or lean mass, namely bone mineral deposits, muscle, tendon and other connective tissue...

 drugs); half of Magnolia
Magnolia
Magnolia is a large genus of about 210 flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae. It is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol....

s (used as Chinese medicine for 5,000 years to fight cancer, dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

 and heart disease); and Autumn crocus
Autumn Crocus
Autumn Crocus may refer to:*One of two species of flowering plant:** the Autumn Crocus Crocus nudiflorus** the Meadow Saffron Colchicum autumnale, which is also known as Autumn Crocus* Autumn Crocus , a 1931 play by Dodie Smith...

 (for gout
Gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

). Their report said that "five billion people still rely on traditional plant-based medicine as their primary form of health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

."

See also



  • List of plants used in herbalism
  • Medicinal mushrooms
    Medicinal mushrooms
    Medicinal mushrooms are mushrooms, or mushroom extracts, that are used or studied as possible treatments for diseases. Lentinula edodes , Grifola frondosa , Ganoderma lucidum , and Cordyceps, have a history of medicinal use spanning millennia in parts of Asia...

  • List of herbs with known adverse effects
  • Herb garden
  • Doctrine of signatures
    Doctrine of signatures
    The doctrine of signatures is a philosophy shared by herbalists from the time of Dioscurides and Galen. This doctrine states that herbs that resemble various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments of that part of the body. Examples include the plants liverwort; snakeroot, an antidote for...


  • History of pharmacy
    History of pharmacy
    The history of pharmacy as an independent science is relatively young. The origins of historiography pharmaceutical back to the first third of the nineteenth century which is when the first historiographies that while not touching all aspects of pharmaceutical history is the starting point for the...

  • Ethnobotany
    Ethnobotany
    Ethnobotany is the scientific study of the relationships that exist between people and plants....

  • Ayurveda
    Ayurveda
    Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

  • Chinese herbology
    Chinese herbology
    Chinese Herbology is the theory of Traditional Chinese herbal therapy, which accounts for the majority of treatments in Traditional Chinese medicine ....

  • European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products
    European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products
    The European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products formallyThe Directive 2004/24/EC amending, as regards traditional herbal medicinal products, Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use was established by the European Parliament and...


  • Alternative medicine
    Alternative medicine
    Alternative medicine is any healing practice, "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine." It is based on historical or cultural traditions, rather than on scientific evidence....

  • Integrative medicine
    Integrative medicine
    Integrative medicine or integrative health is the combination of the practices and methods of alternative medicine with conventional medicine. The term is relatively recent, and is mainly promoted by proponents of alternative therapies in the west...

  • Naturopathic medicine
    Naturopathic medicine
    Naturopathy, or Naturopathic Medicine, is a form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation...


Further reading

  • Lesley Braun and Marc Cohen. (2007). Herbs and Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide. Elsevier Australia. ISBN 0-7295-3796-X 9780729537964.