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Faith in the ability of natural, organic substances to provide remedy to human ailments and biophysical imbalance is the cornerstone of traditional, non-Western approaches to health and vitality.
Today, the healing power of plants and belief in the benefits of holistic medicine, based on knowledge that has taken many centuries to evolve, is witnessing an enormous growth in popularity and appreciation in the West and globally.
The roots of modern medicine can be said to "begin" during the 19th Century - after which only those with medical degrees were allowed to practice medicine. In contrast to this, understanding of the healing power of plants was born in ancient societies and built upon over thousands of years of knowledge and practice.
Increasingly, we are turning to non-western ideas about health practice to complement modern medicine or even seek fresh alternatives to it. More and more people are becoming wary of the false security provided by the "quick fix" effect of many modern pharmaceuticals and the drawbacks of potentially dangerous side-effects. The huge corporate machinery of the pharmaceutical industry is undermining many patient's faith in the integrity of the testing, patenting and marketing process of modern medicines. Above all, there has been a revival of belief in the power of nature to heal. Trust in the ancient knowledge of plant properties perfected over many centuries is also being rekindled.
Modern pharmacology itself has its roots in herbalism. As the treasure chest of nature's medicinal plants has provided a foundation for Western society's clinically based approach to medicine. An estimated 1/3 of all synthetic medicines (or pharmaceuticals) are derived from plants active ingredients.
These include many popular drugs routinely used in modern healthcare. To name only a few: atropine is extracted from deadly nightshade, ephedrine is the active ingredient in traditional Chinese medicinal herb ma huang, warfarin is a synthetic derivative of coumarin, aspirin was originally derived from the active ingredient salicin taken from white willow bark and the meadowsweet plant, digoxin is a purified cardiac glycoside extracted from the foxglove plant, vinca alkaloids are originally derived from the Catharanthus (Madagascar Periwinkle) genus herbaceous plants, taxol from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, hyoscine obtained from plants such as henbane or jimson weed (Datura species), reserpine is derived from Indian snakeroot, colchicines is extracted from the Autumn crocus, while of course the opium poppy has given the world morphine and codeine.
However, a plant or its related herbal extract cannot be patented by drugs companies - whereas a synthesised component that mimics or replicates it can be. These are formulated using a combination of natural extracts and synthesised compounds that imitate plant properties. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), of 119 plant-derived pharmaceutical medicines, approximately 74 percent are used by modern medical practice in ways that closely mirror the application of these same natural substances in many indigenous cultures. They also estimate that 4 billion people, 80% of the world population, use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care.
While within the medical establishment itself, the acceptance and endorsement of homeopathic complementary therapy is also steadily on the rise. This is particularly true in relation to the ideas of holistic therapy, or that when treating human disease and ailments attention needs to be paid to all the dimensions of the person - their physical, mental and emotional well-being - before recommending treatment.
The logic of this approach can be seen in the example of what is known as the "stress response" or the body's biochemical reaction to stress. Chemicals released in the body during times of stress, produce the "fight or flight" physiological responses like increases in heart rate, blood pressure and muscular tension. While these are harmless and even useful natural responses for short periods of time, prolonged periods of chronic stress - a common feature of the frantic-paced modern lifestyle - can produce pathological changes in the body, contributing to health problems from asthma to heart attacks.
It is our belief in this holistic philosophy that underpins our herbal medicinal practice and also our HerbalHard programme for sexual health.
Herbal medicine and Healing Naturally