Also called: Botanicals, Phytotherapy
Side effects, Interactions and Warnings: Herbs are plants or plant parts used for their scent, flavour, or therapeutic properties. Herbal medicines fall into a category of dietary supplements. They are sold as tablets, capsules, powders, teas, extracts, and fresh or dried plants. People use herbal medicines to try to maintain or improve their health.
Some herbs, such as comfrey and ephedra, can cause serious harm. Some herbs can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medicines – always be sure to check with your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare practitioner. Always follow the supplement instructions and do not exceed the recommended dosage.
Herbalism (“Herbology” or “Herbal Medicine”)
Herbalism is the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of such usage. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through much of human history, and this form of traditional medicine is still widely practiced today. Modern medicine makes use of many plant-derived compounds as the basis for evidence-tested pharmaceutical drugs, and phytotherapy works to apply modern standards of effectiveness testing to herbs and medicines that are derived from natural sources. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.
What is herbal medicine good for?
Herbal medicine is used to treat many conditions, such as asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, low immunity, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer, among others. For example, one study found that 90% of arthritic patients use alternative therapies, such as herbal medicine. Herbal supplements are best taken under the guidance of a trained health care provider. Be sure to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any herbs.