Traditional medicine is “the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness”. There are many different systems of traditional medicine, and the philosophy and practices of each are influenced by the prevailing conditions, environment, and geographic area within which it first evolved, however, a common philosophy is a holistic approach to life, equilibrium of the mind, body, and the environment, and an emphasis on health rather than on disease. Generally, the focus is on the overall condition of the individual, rather than on the particular ailment or disease from which the patient is suffering, and the use of herbs is a core part of all systems of traditional medicine.
Traditional Vs. Conventional Medicine
Why people all around the world are still using traditional herbal medicine? The most common reasons are:
- They are more affordable, they are natural and more closely corresponds to the patient’s ideology, which always concerns about the side effects of synthetic drugs.
- Herbal products, such as herbal extracts, essential oils, and herbal teas, are available in most health food and even grocery stores, so you don’t have to see a doctor to get prescriptions before purchasing them. This certainly makes it easier to obtain herbal products and avoid additional health care costs.
- It’s effective. Herbs are used mostly to treat chronic and acute conditions and various ailments, including major health problems like cardiovascular disease, prostate abnormalities, depression, inflammation, and weakened immune system. For a long time, herbs are used around the world to treat conditions and diseases, and many studies prove their efficacy. In fact, of the 177 drugs approved worldwide for the treatment of cancer, more than 70 percent are based on natural products.
In herbal treatment, the focus is on the overall condition of the individual, rather than on the particular ailment or disease from which the patient is suffering. The main use of herbal medicines is for general well-being and therapy for those with chronic diseases. However, usage of herbal remedies increases when modern medicine is ineffective in the treatment of diseases, such as advanced cancer and HIV.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an important example of the ancient knowledge that is applied in a holistic approach to treating diseases. They are sold as tablets, capsules, powders, teas, extracts, and fresh or dried plants. People use herbal medicines to try to maintain or improve their health. Three of the top-selling herbs, namely Ginkgo biloba, Allium sativum (garlic), and Panax ginseng, can be traced back to origins in TCM and are today still used to treat various diseases.
Contraindications and Side Effects
However, although herbal medicines are generally safe, caution must be taken before taking it. An example is ginkgo plant which is said to treat blood disorders and memory problems (dementia), as well as enhancement of cardiovascular function and improvement of eye health. These are the patients who may not take ginkgo plant:
- People who are taking anticoagulants such as aspirin
- Those taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors as an antidepressant
- Those people who are allergic to alkyl phenols(poison ivy)
- Those with epilepsy
- Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers
- People taking blood thinners
Although it is true that most over-the-counter drugs come from plants, there is a big difference between them. Conventional drugs come from the active ingredient from a plant which is synthesized and purified. That active chemical provides desired response when taken into the body. Food and Drugs Administration is the body that approves the use of the drugs with its given generic name.
Traditional medicine- an alternative solution when modern conventional medicine fails. Research is still going on for various plants, herbs, and foods that heal naturally. A plant is a biochemical factory that creates healing substances for humanity.