Celebrating an ancient global practice in modern times
On National Herbal Medicine Week we pay tribute to the culture of Herbal Medicine, take a look at herbs in practice and consider what the future holds for plant-based medicine in the wake of climate change. Finally, we suggest ways to celebrate this week!
The Plant Kingdom – the longest-reigning kingdom on Earth
Herbal medicine is the oldest form of medicine in the world and extends to every culture on Earth. It is estimated that between 70-75%(1,2) of the world’s population use herbal medicines.
For richer or poorer, money doesn’t grow on trees
In Third World Countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) actively promotes herbal medicine because it is both inexpensive and effective. (3) Advantages and benefits of herbal medicine include that it is accessible in poorer countries and that both individual herbs and a combination of herbs are able to simultaneously treat a variety of symptoms or body systems, and therefore is cost-effective for the individual. (3)
Ancient remedies for modern ailments
Herbal medicine is sought after for modern epidemics. In China, in 2003, herbal medicines played a prominent role in the strategy to contain and treat SARS – severe acute respiratory syndrome (4) and the Africa flower has now been used for decades to treat wasting symptoms associated with HIV in Africa. (4)
Local herb lore
In Australia, we are fortunate to have access to many high quality standardised herbal medicines. (3) At Brisbane Livewell Clinic we stock an extensive liquid herbal medicine dispensary, featuring traditional Western European, Ayurvedic, North American and Chinese herbs. Herbs prescribed correctly are extremely safe. (3) This translates to prescription occurring after a dedicated consultation with a practitioner, factoring in things like co-prescribing alongside pharmaceutical medications.
Science catches up with ancient wisdom
While herbal medicine can often be taken safely alongside many pharmaceutical medicines, sometimes the pharmaceutical medicine is a form of herbal medicine in itself – via the manipulation of constituents and isolation of active ingredients. About 25% of drugs prescribed worldwide are derived from plants.(4) Examples include aspirin (from willow bark), digoxin (from foxglove), quinine (from cinchona bark), and morphine (from the opium poppy).(5) More than 60% of cancer therapeutics on the market or in testing are based on natural products.(4)
Save the trees, especially the medicinal ones
Sadly, overharvesting of plants can threaten biodiversity and there is a valid concern that poorly managed collection and cultivation practices could lead to the extinction of endangered plant species. (4) It has been suggested that 15,000 of 50,000–70,000 medicinal plant species are threatened with extinction. (4) The good news is that the efforts of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International are dedicated to the preservation of plant populations. (4)
Be assured that as professional herbalists we source from ethical and reputable companies who keep us up to date as a profession in regards to endangered species and cultivation practices and who endeavour to continue with eco-friendly practices.
Celebrate the Power of Plants on National Herbal Medicine Week!
Here are a few ways to honour herbal medicine this week:
- Buy that herbal tea blend you’ve been wanting to try! Make sure you source organic and try to opt for loose leaf tea or at the least a carbon-neutral package/ unbleached tea bag variety
- Visit the Botanical Gardens
- Spend some time in your own garden
- Add some extra culinary herbs to your cooking
- Book in at the clinic to discuss your herbal medicine needs. It’s our Passion!