Herbal Medicine
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Herbal Medicine?

Along with massage therapy , herbal treatment is undoubtedly one of the most ancient forms of medicine. By the time written history began, herbal medicine was already in full swing and being used in all parts of the world.

There are several major surviving schools of herbal medicine. Two of the most complex systems are Ayurveda (the traditional herbal medicine of India) and Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine (TCHM) . Both Ayurveda and TCHM make use of combinations of herbs. However, the herbal tradition in the West focuses more on individual herbs, sometimes known as simples. That is the form of herbology discussed here.

Safety Issues

There is a common belief that herbs are by nature safer and gentler than drugs. However, there is no rational justification for this belief; an herb is simply a plant that contains one or more drugs, and it is just as prone to side effects as any medicine, especially when taken in doses high enough to cause significant benefits.

Nonetheless, the majority of the most popular medicinal herbs are at least fairly safe. The biggest concern in practice tends to involve interactions with medications. Many herbs are known to interact with drugs, and as research into this area expands, more such interactions will certainly be discovered. Each herb entry in this database lists what is known about all safety risks. See also the article on which herbs and supplements to avoid in...