A Quick Overview of Herbal Medicine
“Herbal product” is a term that refers to any product made from plants that is used to treat disease or maintain good health. Herbal supplements are herbal products designed for internal bodily use. Our focus for now is on herbs that have been used in oral supplements. Herbal medicine is a modern field of medicine, but its origins are very old. Herbs have been used in medicinal traditions in China, India, and the Arabic nations. These traditions precipitated the field of herbal medicine that exists today.
We will not go into these traditions in this article, but we will mention them. There is archeological evidence to show that herbal medicine was practiced in China as far back as 8,000 years ago. Ayurveda, the ancient herbal medicinal tradition of India, can be dated back to between 6,000 and 4,000 BC. Additionally, evidence points to the use of herbs as medicine as far back as 60,000 years ago in Iraq.
6 Herbs With a Long Traditional Use
Herbal supplements are categorized differently from over-the-counter and prescription medications that contain herbal ingredients. Herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA and should therefore be treated with some caution. All of the supplements discussed here are safe, and have been touted for a range of benefits; Many of them have scientific evidence to support their efficacy. We recommend that you always speak to a doctor or physician before trying any new supplements.
Ginger is an herb with a few different potential uses as a remedy. Ginger’s use as a medicine dates back roughly 5,000 years and was used in all three traditions mentioned earlier. It was used to treat gout and indigestion in the Ayurvedic tradition, and for a wide range of conditions in the ancient Chinese tradition. Now, ginger is commonly used at home to treat nausea and vomiting, as well as headaches, and pain occurring due to arthritis. Its efficacy is largely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Green tea also has a 5,000-plus-year history, especially in China, where it was once used for various mental and traditional uses. Green tea is very accessible now to be brewed as a hot tea. However, it is also commonly available as green tea extract, an oral supplement. Its uses now are primarily derived from its antioxidant properties, and the mild amount of caffeine it contains. Green tea has the potential to enhance energy levels, improve metabolic function, and even reduce negative LDL cholesterol to some extent.
Alfalfa leaves have a historical tradition of use in both Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine as a remedy for poor digestion and other digestive issues. Herbal medicine still holds alfalfa leaves in good regard for this use. Alfalfa also has mild estrogen-like effects that might be beneficial in relieving menopause symptoms in women.
Guggul is an herb that has long been used in the Ayurvedic tradition, and it is native to other countries as well, including Bangladesh and Pakistan. Its primary benefit appears to be in raising positive HDL cholesterol, and some tout it as a means to reduce negative LDL cholesterol.
Boswellia refers to the Indian boswellia tree, and the extract of this tree has been used in the Ayurvedic tradition. Boswellia extract is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, and there are scientific studies to support its uses. It can be beneficial in bolstering medical treatment of asthma, COPD, ulcerative colitis, and cardiovascular disease. Studies also show it to be helpful in reducing arthritic pain.
The history of herbal medicine is not only interesting, but worthwhile to those looking for natural, alternative treatments for various medical conditions and forms of disease. There is credibility in the storied use of a remedy – what’s known as anecdotal evidence, even if it’s not bolstered by significant scientific consensus. If any of the above herbal remedies seem potentially worthwhile, do some further research and talk to your doctor about using them.