The use of natural medicinal herbs to treat symptoms of disease and even in some cases bring back balance to the body goes back to the first time human ate plants, and the practice is not a stranger even to modern medicine. Though many incredible drugs are now made synthetically, they trace their roots back to a natural treatment that may have been known for centuries.
Aspirin which is acetylsalicylic acid is used to relieve pain by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins which cause pain and also to relieve fevers and thin the blood. Before the first pill called aspirin ever made it to the store shelves, people boiled the bark of the Willow tree to make the natural form of aspirin. There is merit in the uniform dosages available for drugs in that an 80 milligram pill of aspirin in Toledo is the same as an 80 milligram aspirin in Tallahassee.
Standards for homemade herbal remedies do vary depending on the raw materials and the person making the treatment. However, the bad news is that synthesized drugs are made by scientists who only have isolated the active compounds to make the drug. In the case of aspirin, this would be the acetylsalicylic acid. Unfortunately, plant derived compounds are known to work in synergy with the whole plant or at times unique parts of the plant to produce the desired effect of treating disease.
There is a well known saying amongst herbalists who pursue natural remedies and treatments over the synthesized world of modern medicine in that if one comes down with an affliction or malady of any sort, that there is a plant to treat the condition within twenty feet of the person who is suffering. That says a lot about the medicinal power of plant species all over the world. The tough part is acquiring the centuries of knowledge that have been passed down from generation to generation, each building upon the last.
Growing known species of medicinal herbs in a garden at home or in containers just inside a kitchen window is the beginning of a benefit that will have positive results on the whole family who uses the herbs. Of course one needs to start small with some known safe species of herbs that have been used for eons of time. Maybe start with some species that can make delicious teas that are flavorful and have a soothing benefit for the nerves and stomach. Maybe also grow a bit of Aloe to use the sap of the plant to treat a minor skin burn or wound.
Not all that long ago our ancestors did not have access to pharmacies with shelves stocked with treatments for minor and major disease. They had to rely on the potent medicinal compounds and chemicals that existed in the plants that grew around them. They did not have a modern laboratory to synthesize the headache-easing chemicals in the Willow bark. They did not even know how it worked, but they knew that pain relief came when the boiled Willow bark drink was consumed.
Of course there is an inherent danger when an amateur would begin to overstep his proven knowledge and try to use herbs he does not fully understand. There is the possibility of plant misidentification since many species have variants that look similar but are not the same chemically. However, every single day there are people who die that take prescription drugs made in laboratories with strict purity controls and are prescribed by highly trained physicians. Penicillin is a wonderful antibiotic that has saved countless lives. Penicillin has also taken many lives of those who were highly allergic to it. Anaphylaxis induced by penicillin still occurs today.
With the desire to ease the suffering of disease of any type there is risk in the treatment. Myriad things need to be considered from the raw materials of the treatment to whether or not the benefit of the treatment outweighs the side effects. Just like synthesized drugs there are side effects of herbal treatments. The acetylsalicylic acid of boiled Willow bark will act as a blood thinner just as synthesized aspirin does. Whether a person is taking two aspirin for a headache or drinking a bit of boiled Willow bark, the blood thinning effect needs to be considered on a person by person basis. This is where the acquisition of centuries of knowledge is vitally important for the budding herbalist.
Fear does not have to be a factor in moving toward or away from more natural treatments for disease. Caution is advised no matter which road one takes. Some even find a balance of allopathic and natural medicinal treatments. Many will see a doctor and ask about using herbs. Both modern allopathic medicine and herbal treatments seek to relieve disease by using treatments that produce effects different than the disease. A person with a stomach ache is feeling pain in the stomach caused by something in particular. The herbalist and allopathic doctor both seek to produce a different effect than what the disease is causing using a chemical whether it is from a plant or synthesized in a lab.