Herbal medicine uses parts of plants for the treatment of disease, and has existed since the beginning of recorded history. Especially in areas with a great wealth of botanical diversity, such as China and India, the use of herbal medicine took hold in ancient times and continues today. For example, Chinese herbalists employ thousands of plants for medical treatment as part of traditional Chinese medical practices.
Ayurvedic medicine in India relies substantially upon herbs native to India to address mental, physical, and spiritual complaints. Ancient “herbals,” or manuals, help identify plants and contain instructions for treatment. Ayurvedic herbals contain thousands of formulas, many of which are still used in current practice.
With the advent of the Scientific method in modern Western civilization, the formal term “medicine” began to only include treatments which were verified by empirical evidence, a standard which many traditional herbal remedies have not yet been tested against. Medicinal herbs are therefore herbs which, although they may lack scientific support for the treatment of a specific disease, nevertheless have some form of research pointing to potential health benefits.
Herbs may be used as medicines in a variety of ways. They may be consumed as fresh herbs, in capsules, tinctures, in teas and decoctions, and as components in often-complex recipes for treatment in traditional medicine systems. Herbs may be applied externally in poultices, salves, infused oils, liniments, and ointments. Herbs can now be manufactured as standardized extracts, which contain specified amounts of chemical constituents.
Phytochemistry, the study of plant chemistry, has revealed many beneficial chemical compounds in plants. Plants produce a variety of compounds known as metabolites. Primary metabolites, such as carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids, are used to produce secondary metabolites. Secondary metabolites, such as terpenes, phenols, alkaloids, and their glycoside derivatives, are often responsible for the medicinal qualities of plants.
Approximately four thousand chemical compounds are discovered by scientists annually. Three quarters of these are derived from plants. These newly-discovered compounds have great potential for producing beneficial medical therapies.
Medicinal Herbs List –