Herbal medicine is a form of natural healing that has been used for centuries to promote health and treat various ailments. It is based on the use of plants and plant extracts to restore the body's natural equilibrium and allow it to heal itself. Herbal medicines are available in many forms, such as tablets, capsules, powders, teas, extracts, and fresh or dried plants. The main use of herbal medicines is for health promotion and treatment of chronic conditions, rather than life-threatening illnesses.
However, when conventional medicine fails to treat diseases such as advanced cancer or new infectious diseases, traditional remedies become more popular. An herb is a plant or part of a plant that is used for its aroma, flavor, or therapeutic properties. Herbal medicines are a type of dietary supplement and are often used to try to maintain or improve health. A study conducted in Germany looked into the use of herbal medicine and its objectives, the role of the type of disease, the reasons for its preferred use, and the sources of information.
Herbal medicines have gained popularity as potential therapeutic agents for the prevention and treatment of various liver diseases due to their high efficacy and low side effects. In recent years, research has intensified in both developed and developing countries to scientifically evaluate clinical use and validate herbal medicines. Many believe that herbal medicine offers an alternative treatment for various diseases, particularly lifestyle diseases that require lifelong pharmaceutical medication and thus pose safety concerns. It is important to note that some herbal supplements, particularly those imported from Asian countries, may contain high levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.
Therefore, it is essential to take any medication (herbal or otherwise) under the supervision of a qualified and knowledgeable professional. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that trade in medicinal plants, herbal raw materials, and herbal medicines is growing at an annual rate of about 15%. Most herbal remedies are obtained by alcoholic, acetonic or aqueous extraction and sometimes without manipulation of seeds, leaves, stems, bark or roots of these plants. When considering using herbal supplements for health purposes, it is important to learn all you can about them by consulting your doctor and contacting herbal supplement manufacturers for information. More healthcare providers are becoming aware of the positive and potentially negative effects of using herbal medications to help treat health conditions.
High-throughput screening for target-based drug discovery, libraries containing a large number of high-purity phytochemicals, laboratory animal models simulating human diseases, profiling kits for drug toxicity studies and bioinformatics databases have all contributed to increased research interest in herbal medicine worldwide towards the discovery of new drugs.