Herbal medicine, also known under the names of phytotherapy and herbalism, is a well-defined branch of the ancient alternative medicinal system that involves the use of plants and plant extracts to cure diseases and alleviate symptoms. The great healing powers of many medicinal herbs and herbal supplements can never be contested for thousands of years plants have been successfully used to fight against a wide spectrum of diseases and disorders, and many of these ancient natural cures are still being used today, sometimes in combination with modern medical treatments.
According to recent archeological findings, herbal medicine dates back ever since man had first walked on this earth, more than 60,000 years ago. For ages, man has continued to perfect the ways of herbal medicine and has been permanently looking for new medicinal herbs with strong curative effects.
The ancient character of herbal medicine is also revealed in the Bible, which suggests the strong relation between man and nature, as well as man’s timely preoccupation with herbalism: “…Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine…” Ezekiel 47:12. Another Scriptural view on herbal medicine can be found in Ecclesiasticus, chapter 38: “…Honor the healer for his services, for the Lord created him. His skill comes from the Most High, and he is rewarded by kings. The healer’s knowledge gives him high standing and wins him the admiration of the great. The Lord has created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not disparage them…”
Anthropologists speculate that over the ages, early tribal communities had acquired a good level of knowledge on herbal supplements and medicinal herbs through simple processes of trial and error. This accumulated knowledge was passed from one generation to the other and has been gradually expanded and polished, carrying the print of many distinctive cultural influences: Western, based on Greek and Roman medicinal wisdom, the Ayurvedic from India and Oriental, particularly Chinese influences. Unfortunately, many secrets of the ancient herbal medicine had been lost, and nowadays herbalists are constantly aiming to recover reminiscences of our ancestors’ medicinal wisdom. At present, herbalists, botanists, pharmacologists and microbiologists from many corners of the world have joined forces in an attempt to discover lost medicinal herbs and herbal supplements, as well as new specimens of plants which could be developed for treatment of various diseases in the near future.
In recent years, herbal supplements and medicinal herbs have been extensively used for treating diseases in non-industrialized societies of the world, but also in well developed urban societies. Many people have realized the great efficiency of herbal supplements and medicinal herbs and have decided to use them as substitutes for synthetic drugs or as enhancements for modern medication treatments.
Used wisely and with care, the right herbal supplements and medicinal herbs can successfully protect against diseases and help in curing already existent health problems. Nature has supplied us with so many natural ingredients with great curative effects, and it would be foolishness not to take full advantage of its offerings. We should make efforts to discover nature’s mysteries and use its provided ingredients to create efficient, safe cures and remedies.
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