Botanical Medicine: Taking Charge of Your Own Health


History Of Botanical Medicine

Our ancestors have always used plants as a form of medicine. According to a study from the University of Minnesota, archeologists discovered that medicinal plants such as ephedra, cannabis, and opium poppies were used by our ancestors 60,000 years ago. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest written records on medicinal plants, dates back to 1500 BC. The Charaka Samhita, which was written in India in 700 BC, documents the use of more than 300 medicinal plants. In the early 1800s, scientists extracted morphine from opium and discovered that the opium plant has multiple healing properties. History has shown that plant-based medicines have the potential to effectively treat a variety of diseases and become a part of mainstream medicine. 

Growing Use Of Botanical Medicine

In the 1990s, healthcare systems around the world began to shift towards a more natural and holistic approach to medicine. This change led to a renewed interest in botanical medicines, which have fewer side effects than pharmaceutical drugs. According to a report from Nutraceuticals World, the use of botanical medicine in the United States alone increased by 380% between 1990 and 1997.  In addition, by 2010 the global sales of botanical dietary supplements reached $25 billion. Today the World Health Organization reports that 75% - 85% of the world’s population uses botanical medicine in primary healthcare. The acceptance and adoption of botanical medicine will continue to grow as more scientific evidence is produced in the future.

Botanical Medicine For Stress Management

The growing cases of anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder seen across the world have created a need for alternative treatment options. A few popular herbs used in botanical medicine have been shown to be effective in treating and reversing stress-related disorders. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), which belongs to a group of herbs called “adaptogens”, regulates our response to stress and anxiety. Chamomile and lavender are flowering herbs used to calm the nerves, alleviate anxiety and manage mental ailments. Valerian, a plant that is native to Europe and Asia, is used to treat sleep disorders and depression. Other examples of Herbal Medicines used for stress management include Kava Kava (Piper methysticum), Cannabidiol (CBD), Passionflower (Passiflora), and Galphimia glauca (Gold Shower).

Botanical Medicine For Treating Chronic Disease

Patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure can reverse these conditions with lifestyle changes and the use of botanical medicines. For example, Hawthorn (Crataegus ambigua) can improve heart health by reducing heart weakness, murmurs, and spasms. Elecampane (Inula helenium) is a tall and bushy plant used to treat frequent colds, coughs, digestive problems, loss of appetite, and asthma. Plantain is a plant with anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and wound-healing properties. Nowadays there are many natural medicinal plants that can be used as a safe and cost-effective way to treat or reverse pre-chronic and chronic diseases.

Herbal Suppliments Widening the Scope Of Botanical Medicine

Herbal supplements are products that are derived from different parts of a plant such as its roots, seeds, oils, flowers, and berries. These products come in the form of teas, liquid extracts, bath salts, ointments, oils, tablets, and capsules. There are many herbal supplements that are widely used and growing in popularity today. Aloe Vera is used for treating digestive issues while Black Cohosh is effective in alleviating menopausal symptoms such as night sweats. Flaxseed is commonly used for lowering cholesterol levels, Ginkgo is helpful for improving memory, and Echinacea is great for fighting colds and the flu. In addition, Tea Tree oil is used for treating acne, wounds, and infections, while St. John’s Wort is effective for managing stress.

Can Botanical Medicine Work Like Pharmaceutical Drugs?

Studies suggest that 25% of all pharmaceutical drugs include plant-based ingredients. Examples of pharmaceutical drugs derived from plants are Aspirin, oral anticoagulants used as blood thinners, and Digoxin for congestive heart failure. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that botanical medicines can work similarly to pharmaceutical drugs but with fewer side effects and health risks. In addition, natural medicine can be used on a daily basis for disease prevention and to maintain long-term health. This means that botanical medicine has the potential to become a better substitute for chemical-based medicine in the future.


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