Why Botanical Medicine?
Botanical medicine (also known as herbal medicine) has its origins in ancient cultures including those of the Egyptians, American Indians, Chinese, and many others. Botanical medicine involves the medicinal use of plants to treat diseases and enhance general health and well being. Some herbs have potent ingredients and should be treated with the same care and respect as pharmaceutical drugs. In fact, many pharmaceutical drugs are based on the synthesized versions of naturally occurring compounds found in plants. For instance, the heart drug digitalis was derived from the herb foxglove. In recent years, interest in herbal medicine has skyrocketed, leading to a greater scientific interest in the medicinal use of plants. Many international studies have shown that plants are capable of treating disease and improving health, often without any significant side effects.
A Range of Disorders
Herbs can be used to treat a wide range of disorders, including:
- High blood pressure
- Hormonal imbalances, like premenstrual tension
- Poor blood circulation
- Skin conditions, like eczema
- And many others…
A pharmaceutical drug in many instances uses a synthesized version of a plant’s active ingredient. Practitioners of herbal medicine maintain that an active ingredient can lose its impact or become less safe, if used in isolation from the rest of the plant. For instance, salicylic acid is found in willow bark and is used to make aspirin. Aspirin can cause the lining of the stomach to bleed, but willow bark naturally contains other compounds that counteract the irritant qualities of salicylic acid. According to herbal medicine, the effect of the whole plant is greater than its parts.
Herbal medicine aims to return the body to a state of natural balance, so that it can start healing itself. Different herbs act on different systems of the body. Some of the herbs that have been scientifically studied, and found to be effective and safe.
Some Examples of Botanical Medicine
- Echinacea – boosts the immune system and aids the body in fighting infection. It is used to treat ailments such as boils, fever and herpes. Echinacea is under investigation for its use in treating cancer and AIDS.
- Dong quai (dang gui) – used for gynaecological complaints, such as premenstrual tension, menopause symptoms and period pain. Some studies indicate that dong quai can lower blood pressure.
- Garlic – can be used to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood fats and cholesterol (a type of blood fat) levels. The antibiotic and antiviral properties of garlic mean that it is also used to fight colds, sinusitis and other respiratory infections.
- Ginger – many studies have shown ginger to be useful in treating nausea, including motion sickness and morning sickness.
- Ginkgo biloba – commonly used to treat poor blood circulation and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Some studies have found ginkgo biloba to be effective in treating neurological disorders, such as memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Ginseng – generally used for debility and weakness, for example during recovery from illness. It can be used to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, however overuse of ginseng has been associated with raised blood pressure. Some studies show that ginseng can also boost immunity, improve mental functioning and speed the healing processes of the body
Herbal medicine is usually a safer alternative to pharmaceuticals, and usually have less side effects. They can be used for a wide range of diseases and illnesses. At Cascade Health Clinic we provide individualized botanical remedies for every patient that includes a comprehensive review of the patient to determine just what botanical is right. Cascade Health Clinic crafts many of our own tinctures and makes a unique blend for the patient while in office.