Is Natural Medicine Or Remedies Right For You?

Posted on July 27, 2020

Herbal medicine – also known as botanical medicine, phytotherapy or phytomedicine, Natural Medicine – involves using a plant or part of a plant for healing purposes. The herbal part of a remedy may come from the leaf, flower, stem, seed, root, fruit or bark of the plant and it may be used to treat wounds and a range of other conditions.

Natural medicine is considered to be the most ancient form of healing. Herbs have been used in most traditional cultures and have had a major influence on many systems of medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine, Native American and Indigenous Australian medicine and also conventional medicine.

Written records of Roman, Egyptian, Persian and Hebrew cultures show that herbs were used to treat practically every known illness. The history of herbal medicine is actually part of the history of medicine itself and herbal knowledge came to Europe from the Middle East during the crusades. Many prescription medicines used today were originally derived from trees, shrubs or herbs.

There are an estimated 400,000 plants known today, but only a fraction of these have been studied or used medicinally. Many researchers believe that there are plants as yet unrecognised for their healing powers. Pharmaceutical companies and others are actively investigating the potential of plants to provide new antibiotics and other medicines.

Herbs contain a large number of naturally occurring chemicals (constituents) that have some type of biological activity. Herbs work in a similar fashion to many pharmaceutical preparations. In fact, some pharmaceutical medicines are still obtained from plants. For example, the malaria medicine quinine is extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree, and the pain medicine morphine is produced from the opium poppy.

Western herbalists, however, believe that herbs should be used in their complete form to ensure the balance of constituents contained in the plant is utilised. They consider that herbal remedies are of most benefit when used to treat chronic, ongoing conditions. There are generally no quick-fix herbal treatments.

Herbalists also believe that herbs can be very effective in the treatment of many conditions, but without the unwanted side effects that are often seen in conventional pharmaceutical treatments. Nevertheless, it should be realised that herbs can be very potent and, if used incorrectly, can cause serious adverse effects.

Taking herbal supplements may decrease the effectiveness of other drugs you are taking or may increase the negative side effects.  
If you are considering taking herbal medications it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about possible side effects and interaction with other medications you are taking.

Purchase Natural medicine products from a reputable supplier 

Not all herbal medicines that are sold are safe. Always purchase products from a reputable practitioner or pharmacist.

Be careful about purchasing herbal medicines over the internet. Unregulated herbal medicines from overseas may not be manufactured to the same quality and standard as regulated medicines. In some cases, products bought over the internet have been found to have dangerous levels of lead, mercury or arsenic, which can cause serious health problems.

Herbal medicines made in Australia are subject to regulations. Consult with your pharmacist about the safety and effectiveness of the herbal medicine or supplements you are thinking of buying. If you are considering taking herbal medicine, it is recommended that you:

  • Never stop taking prescribed medications without consulting your doctor. 
  • Always tell your doctor if you are planning to start a course of herbal medicine for your condition.
  • Seek advice from your qualified health practitioner, your doctor or your pharmacist about the herbal medicine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.
  • Always purchase products from a reputable practitioner or pharmacist. Be cautious about buying herbal medicines or supplements manufactured overseas.
  • Take all herbal medicines strictly as prescribed and consult your health practitioner immediately if you experience any adverse reactions. 

First port of call, speak with your natural healthcare professional on your expectations from complementary therapy and the particular health concern you may have.

Enjoy your exploration of herbal medicines and remedies.

Stay safe and be healthy