It is well known that certain plants can heal and improve health. Arnica, ginger, lavender, camomile, linden, all these medicinal plants are very present to help us in our daily life.
A medicinal plant is a plant used for its therapeutic virtues useful for improving health.
The plant is almost never used entirely. In the majority of cases, it is only some of its parts that possess the therapeutic virtues: the leaf, bulb, root, stem, flower, seeds, bark or buds. The same plant can also have several different benefits depending on the part used (for example, the lime tree with its leaves and sapwood).
Medicinal plants, a bit of history...
The presence of medicinal plants in the medical sphere goes back several thousand years ago. At that time, knowledge of plants (whether it be medicinal or toxic) was transmitted orally and the various properties were discovered instinctively.
Traces of the use of plants for healing purposes were discovered in China 5,000 years before Christ. In the civilisations of the Middle East and Egypt, written evidence (papyrus, tablets) were found attesting to the presence of plants in their lives.
Although in the East medicinal plants began to be used very early, in the Western world it was a different story. It was only thanks to the work of Hippocrates (460-377 ACN) that interest in these herbal remedies began. After that, great thinkers such as Pliny the Elder or Aristotle continued to deepen the knowledge of the therapeutic properties of plants.
Today, the practices of phytotherapy and homeopathy have emerged from the use of these plants. Their numerous virtues treat a wide range of ailments and pathologies of daily life.
What virtues can be found in plants?
All so-called medicinal plants possess active ingredients that provide them with specific therapeutic virtues.
Plants can be used for many different problems:
For respiratory problems
For blood circulation problems
Against joint problems
To purify yourself
To facilitate sleep
And many more ...
What forms can phytotherapy treatments take?
Medicinal plants can be found in several forms depending on the desired effects.
In tincture: the plants are macerated in alcohol to obtain a powerful solution which is then used in the preparation of essential oils and other homeopathic medicines.
In decoction: to obtain a decoction, a mixture of water and cut plants is heated to boiling. Then the solution obtained is filtered and its use can be applied in cutaneous form (compress, poultice, ointment, ointment) or drunk as an infusion.
As a balm or cream: beeswax is heated and a large quantity of oily macerate and essential oils are added.
Phytotherapy versus chemical drugs
In our society where the reflex when you have a headache is to take an aspirin, phytotherapy sometimes has a hard time coming forward. In conventional medicine, most chemical drugs cause side effects to those who take them, whereas phytotherapy has almost none.
Where conventional medicines serve as a "bandage" and just treat the symptoms of disease, herbs will work in depth to find the root of the problem and treat it without the risk of unwanted effects. The effectiveness of the plants used in phytotherapy has been scientifically tested and proven.
Guide to the consumption of medicinal plants
The use of plants in alternative medicine has many advantages. Only those which says a lot of advantages also means some disadvantages and limitations. Natural substances are not necessarily safe and self-medication can have serious consequences. So there are a few rules to know before you start using herbal medicine.
Always read the user guide before taking any herbs.
It is important to seek advice from a specialist before consuming certain plants, as some plants can be toxic in case of overdose, or if they are taken incorrectly.
It is more prudent for children and pregnant women to consult a doctor before taking any natural treatment. Some plants contain molecules that can be dangerous for the foetus.
People who are already under medical treatment should check that the herbal intake does not interact with it.