What is Herbalism?
So, what exactly is herbalism? It is a traditional medicine practice based on the use of plants and their extracts. Herbalism is also referred to as phytotherapy, botanical medicine, herbal medicine, medical herbalism, herbology, and medicinal botany. In addition to plants, herbalism occasionally includes bee products, shells, certain animal parts, and even fungi.
There are many different substances that plants produce which can be beneficial to our health and people all over the world have used plants to treat ailments since the prehistoric period.
The first written record of herbs being studied dates back to more than 5,000 years ago. The first known Chinese herbal book dates back to 2700 B.C. and listed over 360 plants known for the medicinal uses. In 1000 B.C., the Egyptians were known for using opium, mint, indigo, castor oil, and garlic to treat ailments and the Bible makes mention of this as well.
It's also interesting to note that many of today's top selling pharmaceuticals have a long history of use as herbal remedies. Aspirin, quinine, opium, and digitalis are just a few examples. It is estimated that over 80% of the world's population uses herbal medication in some way, shape or form.
Many herbalists believe that pharmaceuticals are most effective when used in emergency situations where time is of the essence. Over the long haul however, the consensus is that herbs are a better alternative in preventing disease.
Regardless of which camp you're in, conventional medicine or alternative, there's no denying that herbal remedies and herbalism certainly have their place.