Through the course of human history, nearly every culture developed some tradition in herbs as medicine. Ancient peoples would verbally pass down basic remedies within families and communities. They used this knowledge to deal with things like colds, fevers, cuts, etc. For more serious illness, they would turn to their village healer, shaman, or witch doctor to find cures. In the case of Chinese Herbal Therapy, documentation began over 3000 years ago.
History of Herbs
Today, many of us have forgotten this knowledge, especially in well-developed areas like most cities in the USA. This is because pharmaceutical companies came to be known in the 19th century. They aggressively marketed products as superior to raw herbs and formulas. To be fair, it is often true that pharmaceuticals (the medicine you get from an MD or DO) are often very strong and aggressive in the effect they have on the body, which can be good or bad.
It would be foolish to say pharmaceuticals are terrible and never the right choice. In fact, pharmaceuticals are the best option in some cases, particularly when they can save or prolong life. These medications are too often over prescribed or used to allow someone to continue the bad habits that made them sick in the first place.
Herbal Medicine Today
Herbal Medicine can be amazingly effective when working with a knowledgeable practitioner. Once can treat anything from colds and digestive discomfort to speeding recovery from injury and surgery.
Often, with the support of MDs or DOs, herbs can very effectively support the reduction of modern pharmaceuticals. In conjunction with herbs, pharmaceuticals can be used at minimal levels without side effects. In some cases, patients can even get off them entirely.
There are 3 Main Categories of Herbal Medicine Today
Chinese Herbal Medicine is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and developed over the course of 3000+ years. These herbs and formulas are prescribed for very specific combinations of symptoms. Practitioners undergo extensive training to learn the basics of indications, modifications, how to prescribe, and contraindications. Chinese herbs can be prescribed individual, or in formula combinations of 2 or more herbs.
Western Herbalism is the common use of herbal substances to treat symptoms of disease. Today, many individuals self treat by purchasing herbal tinctures or compounds in health food stores or online. Usually these tinctures are found in combinations of 1 – 3 herbal substances.
Homeopathy was developed by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. Homeopathy is the application of diluted substances based on the theory of like cures like. What that means is, if a substance causes specific symptoms when taken by a healthy individual, then it is appropriate to prescribe to someone showing those symptoms as part of a pathological presentation (or disease).