In the written record, the study of herbs dates back over 5,000 years to the Sumerians, who described well-established medicinal uses for such plants as laurel, caraway, and thyme. Ancient Egyptian medicine of 1000 B.C. are known to have used garlic, opium, castor oil, coriander, mint, indigo, and other herbs for medicine and the Old Testament also mentions herb use and cultivation, including mandrake, vetch, caraway, wheat, barley, and rye.
Many well established medicines originally come from plants. For example, the painkiller morphine comes from poppies, aspirin comes from the bark of willow trees and digoxin (a drug used to treat heart failure) comes from foxgloves.
Traditional herbal medicine has been used in the UK for centuries and it remains popular today, despite scientific advances leading to more medicines and other conventional medical treatments becoming available. Although it's classed as a complementary medicine in the UK, it's actually the most widely practised form of medicine across the world - 80 percent of the world's population are dependent on herbs for their health.
Some herbal treatments are well established, and have undergone clinical testing. This approach is best called phytotherapy and uses one remedy for one condition based on proper scientific testing.
Herbal remedies can be used in a variety of ways. Out of interest, below is a selection of just a few;
- St John's wort has been found to be effective for the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
- Echinacea may be used to treat colds and other respiratory (breathing) infections.
- Garlic may reduce blood cholesterol levels and could potentially lower your risk of heart disease.
- Saw palmetto is useful if you have an enlarged but benign prostate gland.
- An extract of hawthorn berries may be able to treat mild heart failure.
- Ginger may relieve nausea and vomiting.
- Ginkgo biloba is thought to improve mental performance if you have Alzheimer's disease.
- Horse chestnut seed extract has been studied as a treatment for chronic venous insufficiency.
This technique is currently available at the following clinic: Edinburgh 0141 572 1134.
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