Also called Phytotherapy, Herbalism derives from mainly traditional medical practices where ailments are treated or alleviated, and at times prevented, through the use of plants and plant extracts or products. Contemporary Herbalism has three main identifiable strands: the Western, based on Roman and Greek sources; the Ayurveda system; and the Chinese herbal medicine. In fact many pharmaceutical preparations in Western medicine have a long history in Herbal medicine, among them turmeric, neem, opium, quinine, digitalis and aspirin. Some other Herbal medicines in wide use are: Artichoke (reduction of cholesterol), Black cohosh (phytoestrogen), Echinacea, Garlic and St. John’s wort. The Herbal medicines are usually derived from the secondary metabolites. Some examples are inulin from the roots of dahlias, quinine from the cinchona, morphine and codeine from the poppy, and digoxin from the foxglove.
Despite the fact that improper use of Herbalism can be potentially risky, mainly due to misconceptions and faulty compositions (everything natural is not benign!), it is gaining ground as system of alternative medicine. In a survey done in USA (2004), it was found that about 20% people used some form of Herbalism as a curative procedure, making it the most popular ‘complementary and alternative medicine’ (CAM).
Herbalism is a tried and tested system of medication, in use in traditional societies for millennia. Modern science has not been able to prove many of its purported curative values, but that has not affected its popularity or its purported benefit. Today, the very word ‘herb’ brings with it associations of a benign ‘nature’, and this associative power has inspired a great commercial venture whereby many herbal products are available across the counter, making Herbalism a part of pop culture. In this section of web directory, we provide links to resources on Herbalism, like various herbal products and institutions offering Herbal cure.