What is herbalism and what are herbal remedies?
Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy. Sometimes the scope of herbal medicine is extended to include fungi and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts. Although we may not realize it - many well established conventional medicines in stores today originally came from plants. Poppies led to painkillers such as morphine, willow tree bark led to aspirin and foxgloves led to the development of heart failure medication! Unfortunately conventional medication is synthetically manufactured and goes through many chemical processes causing it to have a high chemical content and risk of side effects – often doing as much harm as good.
What do herbal remedies contain?
Herbal remedies use only the plant itself – making herbal remedies all natural. If the herbs are not processed correctly, they may lose all natural potency. Only the extracted active ingredients of the herbs are used (in our case we use the full spectrum manufacturing approach – ensuring the integrity of the active ingredients) and in this way the properties of the herb support health and well being in the body.
Herbalists believe that all the elements are in balance within a plant (as nature created them that way) and so it's important to keep them united as a whole. Each herb owes its therapeutic properties to hundreds or even thousands of natural active chemical ingredients within the plant itself. The full effect of the herb is dependent on a synergistic relationship between all these ingredients and it is important that they all be maintained during the manufacturing process. Not only does this ensure therapeutic effectiveness, but active ingredients within the plant itself also help to balance the remedy and prevent side effects. This is where the Full Spectrum Approach wins hands down against manufacturing methods such as Standardized Extracts, which lose many active plant ingredients in the process of manufacturing.
How do plants support health?
Many plants synthesize substances that are useful to the maintenance of health in humans and other animals. These include aromatic substances, most of which are phenols or their oxygen-substituted derivatives such as tannins. Many are secondary metabolites, of which at least 12,000 have been isolated — a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total. In many cases, these substances (particularly the alkaloids) serve as plant defense mechanisms against predation by microorganisms, insects, and herbivores. Many of the herbs and spices used by humans to season food yield useful medicinal compounds. These include primary metabolites, such as sugars and fats, found in all plants, and secondary metabolites found in a smaller range of plants, some useful ones found only in a particular genus or species. Pigments harvest light, protect the organism from radiation and display colors to attract pollinators. Many common weeds have medicinal properties.
In what ways are herbal remedies different from prescription drugs?
Most prescription drugs are aimed at alleviating symptoms or acute conditions without addressing core issues that may prolong the condition in the body. For example, a drug for indigestion works fast but you have to keep taking it because, though it has stopped the indigestion, it has not stopped the underlying cause. The approach of an herbal remedy is to address the underlying, core cause of the illness. While this can sometimes take longer than synthetic medicine, this is not always the case and many medicinal herbs are fast acting, bringing quick relief.
Will herbal remedies work for me?
It is important to embrace herbal healthcare as a lifestyle, and not simply a ‘quick-fix’. Although herbal remedies give immediate support, time is needed for the full benefit to be felt. Over time, the health benefits of herbal remedies become apparent to those who decide to embrace natural remedies as first course of action when addressing health challenges. Some herbal treatments are well established, and have undergone clinical testing. Numerous herbs have undergone many studies – and shown positive results in in-vitro and animal model studies.