The history of herbal medicine is as old as human civilization. Even in the current situation, 70%-80% of the world relies on plant-based medicine (Kambooj, 200). According to WHO, herbs are used two to three times more than conventional drugs or remedies (Evans, 1994)
This has been the true case in most developing countries where modern medicine has not penetrated so much into the villages. In such countries, they trust plant-based medicine even in antenatal care.
A recent study shows that more than two-thirds of pregnant mothers in Nigeria have been using herbal medicine in crude form for antenatal care.
However, besides the fact that it is the only option in such remote areas, there are some other benefits that attract people to plant-based medications. This article will guide you through the benefits and side effects associated with plant-based medicine. At the end of this piece, you should be able to judge which way more; advantages or disadvantages.
Why do People use Plant-Based Medicine?
They promote safe but holistic healing Plant-based medicine is a holistic therapy that incorporates emotional mental and spiritual healing. Consideration of these aspects is part of the neurological approach.
Besides, most herbs don’t have diverse health effects and are safe to use. About 8% of the hospitalizations in the United States are due to adverse side effects of synthetic drugs. In contrast, plant-based medicines’ side effects are very rare that they are hard to find. That is why there is an increase in their usage in recent years.
Some plants based medicines contain antioxidants
Even though the mechanism of action of plant-based medicines is not well established, some of them are known to have antioxidant activities.
Such plants are effective in treating various conditions like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and many cardiovascular diseases like diabetes.
In fact, their antioxidant action ability helps reduce the toxicity of other drugs or toxic agents as well.
They have great complexities that make them effective
Just a single type of herb has different compounds. Some compounds have great complexities. Besides, several herbs can be combined and used together against a specific disease. This is done to provide compounds that can modify the action of active ingredients.
For instance, the use of Psychotria viridis leaves together with Banisteriopsis caapi vine stalk to produce Ayahuasca tea in a Ayahuasca Peru retreat that is used in healing various conditions as well as spiritual healing. The latter provides a compound called β-carbolines that facilitate the action of an active ingredient called N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) found in Psychotria viridis.
Consequently, plant compounds such as polysaccharides, tannins, and mucilages modify the effect of active ingredients. Therefore, the whole plant action cannot be mimicked by the extracted or isolated active ingredients to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs. The whole plant is greater than the sum of the parts.
They promote natural healing
Pharmaceutical drugs as you may know address symptoms caused by a specific disease. However, symptoms relief is only a section of plant-based therapeutic strategies. They usually aim at aiding the body’s own healing process.
For instance, the approach of medicinal herbs to the healing of arthritis may involve, moistening dry synovial, increasing circulation in the affected region, dietary modification of metabolism, facilitating elimination via kidney, etc.
They are diverse in usage
Herbal medicine is non-specific. One type of plant-based medicine can be used to treat several diseases. This is due to their complex action as explained above. Just a single plant can be used to treat several diseases ranging from mild problems to serious chronic conditions. For instance, the neem tree can be used to deal with stomach problems and in birth control as well.
On the contrary, pharmaceutical drugs are designed to elicit a specific reaction.
Plant-based medicines are cost-effective
No question about that. Plant-based medicines are cheap and some of them are obtained for free. For instance, the ones that naturally grows within your compound. Even if you lack one, getting it from your neighbor can be as cheap as requesting to be helped with.
They are readily available
Remote areas in developing nations are not adequately supplied with pharmaceutical medicines due to transportation problems. For that reason, plant-based medicines are the only option because they are easily obtained. Some of them such as mints, sage, aloe, parsley, and thyme can be planted indoors and used whenever you need them.
Besides, making your own healing concoction is very easy.
The Side Effects
Most plant-based medicine causes nausea and repetitive vomiting, bowel movement, or diarrhea. However, this is usually assumed as a sign of the medicine cleansing the body of toxins.
Secondly, plant-based medicine can potentially be toxic, contrary to the assumption that they are safe. There are groups of herbs that are known to exhibit toxicities. Some of these plants include Viscum and comfrey.
Besides, there are some plants that contain near pharmaceutical concentrations of toxic. Such medicinal plants when used irresponsibly can lead to toxicity. The best examples here are Digitalis species, Arnica species, and Aconitum species.
Pregnancy is one condition where minimal medical intervention should be considered. Since limited researches have been done on the safety of plant-based medicines in pregnancy, they should be avoided.
Contrary to the beliefs the plant-based medicines have no side effects, some scientists have reported poisoning or toxicity. However, the side effects are hard to come by and they are only proven in very few plants. The poisoning has been due to incorrect administration and preparation by untrained personnel.
In general, plant-based medicine is the best because they promote natural healing. They handle the root cause of the disease rather than dealing with symptoms alone. Most importantly, it is holistic therapy integrating cultural, spiritual, emotional, mental, and lifestyle aspects.
About the Author:
Rafael is often called “The Millionaire’s Shaman” by his clients because of his powerful personal fulfillment and financial wealth formula. Rafael walks his talk having created an extraordinary life of living in a tropical island paradise, sailing the Thailand archipelago with his family, and enjoying the big city experience from his Bangkok Ritz Carlton residence.