Herbal medicine is also called botanical medicine or phytomedicine -- refers to using a plant's seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, or flowers for medicinal purposes. Herbalism has a long tradition of use outside of conventional medicine. It is becoming more mainstream as improvements in analysis and quality control along with advances in clinical research show the value of herbal medicine.
History of herbal medicine:
The use of plants as medicines predates written human history. A 60 000-year-old Neanderthal burial site, "Shanidar IV", in northern Iraq has yielded large amounts of pollen from 8 plant species, 7 of which are used now as herbal remedies. In the written record, the study of herbs dates back over 5,000 years to the Sumerians, who described well-established medicinal uses for such plants aslaurel, caraway, and thyme. Ancient Egyptian medicine of 1000 BC are known to have used garlic, opium, castor oil, coriander, mint, indigo, and other herbs for medicine and the Old Testament also mentions herb use and cultivation, including mandrake, vetch, caraway, wheat, barley, and rye. In India, Ayurveda medicine has used many herbs such as turmeric possibly as early as 1900 BC. Many other herbs and minerals used in Ayurveda were later described by ancient Indian herbalists such as Charaka and Sushruta during the 1st millennium BC. The Sushruta Samhita attributed to Sushruta in the 6th century BC describes 700 medicinal plants, 64 preparations from mineral sources, and 57 preparations based on animal sources. The first Chinese herbal book, the Shennong Bencao Jing, compiled during the Han Dynasty but dating back to a much earlier date, possibly 2700 BC, lists 365 medicinal plants and their uses - including ma-Huang, the shrub that introduced the drug ephedrine to modern medicine. Succeeding generations augmented on the Shennong Bencao Jing, as in the Yaoxing Lun (Treatise on the Nature of Medicinal Herbs), a 7th century Tang Dynasty treatise on herbal medicine. The ancient Greeks and Romans made medicinal use of plants. Greek and Roman medicinal practices, as preserved in the writings of Hippocrates and - especially - Galen, provided the pattern for later western medicine. Hippocrates advocated the use of a few simple herbal drugs - along with fresh air, rest, and proper diet. Galen, on the other hand, recommended large doses of drug mixtures - including plant, animal, and mineral ingredients. The Greek physician compiled the first European treatise on the properties and uses of medicinal plants, De Materia Medica. In the first century AD, Dioscorides wrote a compendium of more than 500 plants that remained an authoritative reference into the 17th century. Similarly important for herbalists and botanists of later centuries was the Greek book that founded the science of botany, Theophrastus' Historia Plantarum, written in the fourth century. Traditional medicinal systems:
Traditional medicinal systems are four types:
1. Ayurvedic medicinal system:
In this system generally we get medicine from various plants, animals or minerals. The term Ayurvedic means the knowledge of life. This type of medicine is available in the Indian sub-continent from 3000 years ago and still it is very popular and widely used. In this system we get some requirements like -----
(I) The drugs are mainly obtained from plants, animals or minerals, (II) The drugs may be solid, liquid or semi-solid (Ointment), (III) It may be given externally or internally, (IV) In this system the food pattern of patient is strictly restricted. 2. Unani medicinal system:
A system of medicine was popular in Greece which was then developed by Arabians, and the people of middle Asia, which was then, turned Unani medicinal system...