Herbal Medicine Guide

Herbal Medicine

The medicinal benefits of herbs have been known for centuries. Records of Native American, Roman, Egyptian, Persian, and Hebrew medical practices show that herbs were used extensively to cure practically every known illness. The practice has existed since prehistoric times and is used today by up to 80% of the world’s population as a primary form of medicine.

How To Use Herbs As Medicine

Herbs may be used directly as teas or extracts, or they may be used in the production of drugs. Many herbs contain powerful ingredients that, if used correctly, can help heal the body. The pharmaceutical industry was originally based upon the ability to isolate these ingredients, and make them available in a purer form. Herbalists, however, believe that nature provides other ingredients in the same herbs to balance the more powerful ingredients. These other components, though they may be less potent, may help to act as buffers, synergists, or counter-balancers working in harmony with the more powerful ingredients. Therefore, by using herbs in their complete form, the body’s healing process utilizes a balance of ingredients provided by nature.

Are Herbs As Effective As Drugs

Many people believe that herbs are just as effective as drugs, but without the side effects. Herbs do perform many healing functions in the body, but they must be used appropriately, not indiscriminately. Although herbal remedies are less likely than most conventional medicines to cause side effects, herbs nevertheless can be very potent. Moreover, not all plant life is beneficial. There are poisonous plants, and some of them are deadly, especially if used for long periods of time. In fact, it is important to point out that qualified herbalists use herbs with great care. Also, since herbs contain active ingredients, one should be aware that some of these elements may interact negatively with prescribed medications. Certain herbs should be used only for healing purposes, and not for extended periods of time.

Herbs can be of great value when used in a program of self-care and preventive medicine. But because they vary in strength from gentle remedies that can be eaten like food to potential lethal poisons, medicinal plants should always be used under the supervision of a Health Care Professional. A practitioner can advise which of the milder “tonic”" herbs, such as dandelion and nettle, are safe and appropriate for your condition. A number of culinary herbs — including thyme and rosemary, which act as digestive stimulants and antiseptics — may also be used in a preventive health program.

Testing Of Herbal Therapy is Underway

Herbal therapy has been criticized because medicinal plants have not been tested for efficacy according to rigid pharmaceutical standards. However, there’s continuing debate over whether such testing should be performed on the entire herb or only on its active ingredients. Some remedies depend on the actions of several components (or several herbs) working together. Another problem is that sometimes an herb’s active ingredients are not known. Proponents of herbal therapy point out that the pharmaceutical industry grew out of herbal treatment and that plant extracts are still used to make drugs. For example, digitalis, used to treat heart disease, comes from foxglove, and morphine comes from the opium poppy. About 25 percent of today’s prescription drugs are at least partially derived from plants.


Click on each herb name below for info on that specific herb.

Alfalfa Aloe Vera
Anise Astragalus
Barberry Bayberry
Bilberry Birch
Black Cohosh Black Walnut
Blessed Thistle Blue Cohosh
Boneset Borage
Buchu Burdock
Butcher's Broom  
Calendula Cascara Sagrada
Catnip Cat's Claw
Cayenne Cedar
Celery Chamomile
Chaparral Chickweed
Cinnamon Clove
Comfrey Corn Silk
Damiana Dandelion
Dong Quai Echinacea
Elder Ephedra
Eucalyptus Eyebright
False Unicorn Fennel
Fenugreek Feverfew
Flax Garlic
Gentian Germanium
Ginger Ginkgo
Ginseng Goldenseal
Gotu Kola Gravel Root
Green Tea Hawthorn
Hops Horehound
Horsetail Hydrangea
Hyssop Irish Moss
Juniper Kava
Lavender Lemon Grass
Licorice Lobelia
Marshmallow Milk Thistle


Myrrh Nettle
Oat Straw Oregon Grape
Papaya Parsley
Passion Flower Pau D'Arco
Peppermint Plantain
Primrose Pumpkin
Red Clover Red Raspberry
Rhubarb Rose
Rosemary Sage
Sarsaparilla Saw Palmetto
Skullcap Slippery Elm
Squawvine St. John's Wort
Suma (Brazilian Ginseng) Tea Tree
Thyme Turmeric
Valerian White Oak
Wild Yam Willow
Wintergreen Witch Hazel
Wood Betony Wormwood
Yarrow Yellow Dock
Yerba Mate Yucca


Other Guides
Herbal Guide | Vitamin Guide | Mineral Guide
Holistic Health Glossary


Recommended book:
"The Herbal Companion: The Essential Guide
to Using Herbs for Your Health & Well-Being"
by Marcus Webb

Info/order this book




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