Different Types of Herbal Medicine


There are many important and positive aspects regarding herbal medicine therapies and it has been a long-standing debate in the “scientific world ” . Unfortunately, the lack of adequate scientific evidence means that there is no way a doctor can completely take responsibility for, and therefore, will not prescribe, a dosage that requires a different direction associated with the safety factor involved in taking herbal medicines.

Herbal Medicine is under the microscope and therefore, becomes a matter of question. The fabricated products or drugs that we normally take, prescribed or over-the-counter, have to undergo thorough research, testing and do require FDA approval. The entire process will ensure that every single chemical in the specific process along with its interaction with the human body (and resulting side effects) are well understood, documented, and scientifically calculated as evidence.

While herbal medicines enjoy the reputation of being less complicated, it should be remembered that Mother Nature manufactures them and she does not need FDA approval or scientific testing. Fortunately, thousands of years of historical evidence has placed herbal medicines into a certain criteria, or safety zone, that has helped many a fortunate individual with a cure from their diagnosed ailments.

Some common forms of herbal medicines are as follows:

Essence of …..what? :

You have probably come across the line ” essence of… ” followed by some plant or flower when reading an ad for a cosmetic product. While Essences tend to get associated with cosmetic products due to massive advertising of those products, certain essential oils are always available for therapeutic purposes. The popularity of essential herbal oils processed through cold pressing or steam distillation is because many people prefer to get massage therapy rather than taking a pill. The most common benefit of essential oils is the help they provide in relaxation. They do not really cure any problems. Their major effect is to provide instant relief.

Body Massages: Can release toxins in the muscles, aiding relaxation. See above.

Head Massages: Head massages can likewise reduce heaviness or, in some cases, cure headaches. Instantly yes, a prolonged cure, no. Similarly, chest massages using essence of certain herbs can help with decongestion, which may result from a common cold. Once again, instant therapy, yes, permanent solution, no! Constant, continuous symptions of a particular ailment does require immediate care by a physician. Always remember, alternative herbal medicine is meant as a ” preventive medicine ” in the long run.

Pills or Caplets: There was a time when this alternative was not available. It was a dark time for the people who could not stand the taste of raw herbal medicines. The pills and capsules were a godsend for people who wanted to try herbal remedies but were unable to swallow. In order to convert an herb to pill form it first would need to be dried and crushed into powder. What’s of interest is that there are hardly any herbal medicines available in pill or capsule form that target specific ailments today. Why? Because they act more like secondary medications to provide moral support to whatever primary medication is being taken. Professionals in herbal medicine believe that the drying and crushing of the herbs, will actually rob them of their potency.

Others suggest that herbal medicine should be taken in its raw form for complete effectiveness. Anyway, if you are looking for specific herbal medicines instead of general health enhancers and supplements then these options may be for you.

Infusion:  The most popular form of herbal infusion is the drinking of various kinds of tea. Infusion involves the use of the delicate parts (leaves, seeds, and fruits) of a herbal plant and are quick to administer. Some ingredients of infusion tea could be stinging nettle, oat straw, red clover, raspberry leaf, and comfrey leaf. Infusions can be just the tea you drink normally (but using herbs instead of tealeaves) or what is known as Medicinal Strength Tea. Most herbal teas fall into this category though the preparation is slightly different. There are several recipes available for making Medicinal Strength Tea. Please see my eBook on Herbal Tea Remedies.

Poultice: For injuries, inflammations, cramps, or other spasmodic problems it may become necessary to apply a herbal mixture to the infected area as a poultice. The required herbs are first macerated or chopped into small pieces. They are then applied directly to the affected area and covered with a hot and moist bandage. In some cases, the herbal mixture can be applied as a layer to the moist bandage before wrapping it around the affected area.

Raw: As the name suggests, in this case the herbal medicine is taken in its most natural form without any additives or changes to make it palatable. Most people will run a mile in tight shoes/shorts to avoid this form of medication. It is the equivalent of taking a regular capsule, pulling it open, taking that powder, putting it on the tongue and trying to suck on it as if it were chocolate. Ya, Right!, well at least not if the taste buds are functioning normally. No wonder this method is so unpopular. The good news is that most of the herbs that need to be taken raw can alternatively be soaked (or passed through) water to make medicinal strength teas, and those are much easier on sensitive palates. It is also believed that teas increase the effectiveness of raw herbs.

Tinctures: There are very few kids who did not get exposed to this form of medicine. Remember getting a cut and having your mother put that ” iodine ” mixture on the wound? About twenty odd years ago no kid that got into a scrap in the field or playground escaped the terror of a tincture. It was basically a herbal medicine in a liquid form. They were made for external as well as for internal use. Modern incarnations are a lot milder than their older predecessor forms, especially when it came to the ” sting ” .(Oh ya!…Mama waved her hand at first and then blew on the wound for it to dry faster…you remember.)

Decoction: A decoction is a liquid preparation made by boiling a medicinal plant with water usually in the proportion of 5 parts of the drug to 100 parts of water. Typically, certain specific parts of a plant like berries, roots, and herb-bark are used in this process. Depending upon the consistency of the plant part being used, it can take up to two hours to prepare a decoction. This process extracts the flavor and increases the concentration of the herb through the process of boiling.

That more or less covers the different types of herbal medicines available. Depending upon your requirement and personal taste, you might need to take them in one or more of the forms above.

In conclusion, herbal medicines might be risky but there is no need to worry if you are taking precautions or by consulting your physician before ever considering consuming any herbal concoction. Doctors are sort of walking pharmacopoeias and they supposedly know more about all those chemicals and reactions. They can advise you appropriately. Most importantly–Do your homework! An important concept to remember is the fact that with herbal medicine, different cultures have resulted in different types of herbal therapies. It’s all in the genes, so do your homework wisely before ingesting!

Finally, thanks to the Internet and online marketing there is no shortage of deceptive selling of roots and leaves grown in fraudulent backyards. Make certain that when you do purchase herbal medicine remedies that the ingredients have come from genuine herbs and sources. The wrong herbs might possibly contain toxic chemicals that may require making a trip to the hospital, inevitable.

Better yet, grow your own herbs in your very own backyard….it economical, reassuring, and most importantly, Safe!

This is but a small excerpt from my latest e-Book: Holistic Herbs~A Beginners Guide to Herbal Gardening! There you will find 12 free bonus books for you reading enjoyment.


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Successful Gardening!
Kali S Winters

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