Herbology & Phytotherapy – Natural Health Regeneration
According to botany specialists, our planet is a home to several hundred thousand species of plants, only a few tens of thousands of which have been studied and described by scientists, herbology experts and ethnoscience adherents. The archaeologists claim that over the life of humanity, people have massively used plants for food, clothing manufacturing , treatment of diseases and cosmetics production.
To date, the men of science proved that humanity used around 20 thousand different plants; Tibet, China and India occupy the leadership positions throughout history as for plants usage. More than 2,000 years BC the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nun described in his book dozens of techniques and methods for preparing food (mainly comprised of plants). Some of these recommendations have managed to survive up to our time, virtually unchanged. In fact, the medicine in ancient China was based on medicinal plants with more than 1,500 plants in the arsenal.
Healers of India in the first century BC used about 800 plants, a greater part of which is successfully applied in the treatment of various diseases nowadays. The third century BC heralded the new era of botany in the region of Indochina with the rise of commercial cultivation and breeding of various medicinal plants. Tibetan medicine also emerged and developed on the basis of knowledge of Indian medicine. This is confirmed in the treatises on Tibetan medicine, also known as rGyud-bzhi.
Natural therapy rebirth
Herbal medicines are typically based on various active substances contained in these plants: alkaloids, glycosides, tanning agents, essential oils and others. Even though herbal preparations are almost completely superseded by synthetic drugs, it seems that phytotherapy is experiencing a revival.
Medicinal plants can belong to the same botanical species, have the same type of morphological device, but nevertheless differ from each other on both quantitative and qualitative indicators of the content of substances and elements. The chemical composition of these substances in plants depends on the conditions in which they grow and develop, as well as on composition of the soil and groundwater. For example, digitalis that grows on the soil rich in manganese boasts high-grade active ingredients composition. Selfsame, the amount of essential oils in thyme that grows on potash soils is extremely high.
Medicinal properties also depend on the particular time of the year plant was collected (not to mention day and night collection factors). Another vital condition that defines the medical properties of a natural remedy is manufacturing and storage technologies.
Herbology: the unlimited potential
Today, studies have found that plants have the active substances, as well as small amounts of other admixtures, which medical mission is still to be discovered. Gradually, with the development of herbology and phytotherapy, the new compounds we did not know yesterday are combined to treat diseases more efficiently. For example: in the past we had no idea about the purpose of organic acids, essential oils, minerals, pectin and other substances. Perhaps, with the further development of medical science, we will know more about all the substances and elements that are found in plants.
The very idea of herbal medicine is actively supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), claiming that the treatment of approximately 75% of patients can include natural remedies only. The task of medical science in this case becomes organic integration of herbal medicine into the health system. WHO regularly releases monographs on medicinal plants featuring experimental and clinical evidence base for each of the most widely used 235 plants. Monographs on medicinal plants are also published by European Scientific Cooperative On Phytotherapy.
As a part of European Medicines Agency operates a Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products, the main object of which is researching the medical potential of various herbs. In addition, WHO has developed a series of appropriate regulatory documents that support the concept of GMP (Good Medical Practice) and as well as Good Agricultural & Collection Practices.
The prospects of herbology
Herbal treatment factually and legally represents an integral part of medicine. From the economic point of view, herbal industry is a $90 billion market with up to 20% content share in pharmacies around the globe. The growth tendency is really impressive: according Global Industry Analysts the volume of the market will hit $107 billion by 2017. In Europe, North America and other industrialized countries, 50% of the population resorted to herbal drugs at least once in their lives.
Despite the fact that herbal medicine has not been recognized by authoritatie medical circles, pharmaceutic medications didn’t manage to displace herbal products. In Africa it is still much easier to find a healer rather than a doctor or pharmacy, in China the difference between the treatment approaches is insignificant, while in developed countries herbs and powders are used to cleanse the body without resorting to synthetic drugs.
In recent years, more and more doctors enroll in herbology and phytotherapy courses; the number of the certified specialists such has doubled in Germany within as little as 5 years 1995 to 2000. The market volume of alternative medicine in the U.S. equals about $20 billion annually; $230 million a year is spent by British citizens on herbal remedies.