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Modern Medicine: The Growing Popularity of Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies have existed since the beginning of time and most people will try one at some point during their lives. Many, as nearly as 20% of the population, use herbal remedies daily to treat ailments as simple as skin irritation to sicknesses as complex as terminal cancer. Now, we are not talking about vitamins and minerals here. What we are talking about are true herbal remedies.

What are herbal remedies? Herbal remedies are all-natural medicinal treatments that are derived from plants or plant extracts. In addition to plants, other natural ingredients such as bee pollen, fungi and animal products may be used. Sometimes the treatment is subtle and simple such as the addition of certain herbs and spices to recipes to calm the stomach. Other times, the treatment is invasive and complex such as bee-sting therapy.

As mentioned before, herbal remedies have been in existence since prehistoric times. As early as 25,000 B.C.E., people in France were using plants as healing agents. This has been determined by carbon-dated cave drawings that depicted the administration of plant-based healing agents to those who were sick. Anthropologists have also discovered human remains, dating from a later time, with evidence of herbal remedies in their stomach cavities.

The written record of herbal remedies dates much later, about 5,000 years ago. From the written records it is very easy to see how the use of herbs has evolved into what it has become today.

Today, herbal remedies are everywhere. While it is true that most non-industrialized countries rely solely or heavily on herbal remedies, many wealthy countries do as well. In fact, more than 25% of modern prescription drugs have been derived from herbal remedies. Additionally, many people seek natural and herbal remedies without the advice of a doctor to treat mild illnesses and complaints.

Modern Herbal Treatments

There are several types of modern herbal treatments. While most people do not go out and harvest plants for medicinal purposes, some do grow more common types of plants to use for herbal remedies. However, most herbal treatments are purchased from nutritional health stores. Here herbs can be purchased in their raw state or in pill form for ingestion. Creams and lotions containing herbal ingredients can also be purchased for topical application.

There are numerous types of herbal treatments that are widely used today. Following are some of the more common herbs and their uses:

•    Artichoke – Helps lower cholesterol
•    Cranberry – Treats urinary tract infections and promotes urinary health
•    Black Raspberry – Is thought to prevent oral cancer
•    Elderberry – Used in the treatment of flu. It is thought that elderberry speeds up the recovery of patients suffering from the flu and flu symptoms
•    Garlic – Used to lower cholesterol
•    Green Tea – Green tea is an antioxidant that is used to promote the healing of scars and may slow down the growth of cancerous cells in the breast
•    Peppermint – Helps calm the bowels of those with irritable bowel syndrome
•    Saw Palmetto – May stimulate hair growth in males
•    Soy – Treats symptoms of menopause
•    St. John’s Wort – Promotes positive mood and treats depression
•    Valerian Root – Used in the treatment of insomnia

Keep in mind that this is only a small sampling of the hundreds of herbal remedies available.

So, how popular are herbal remedies today? As mentioned before, most people will use herbal remedies at some point during their lives. And the World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the world’s population relies on medical treatments derived from herbs and plants to treat medical conditions. The truth is that you could be using an herbal remedy right now, and you may not even realize that you are. Herbal remedies have become such an integral part of our modern medical practice that sometimes they are indistinguishable from other types of treatments.

Herbal remedies are also extremely popular as secondary sources of treatment. This is because they can often be used with other types of medications and treatments without interfering with them.

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