There is difference in how a herb is used in Western Herbal Medicine and other allied systems as Ayurveda, Chinese Herbal Medicine.
Medicinal herbs are natural and they heal holistically. Nature provided healing power in plants and the solution to enhance our health and the means to free us from diseases. Live healthier by using herbs and first by getting well informed about them.
Even after realizing the power of healing in plants, it is our approach toward the use of plants in a way that turns them as holistic tools in health and in disease.
Modern Pharmacological Drug Vs. Medicinal Herbs:
The drug in Modern medicine has some effects on our system – the beneficial effects are termed as therapeutic effects and the undesirable effects are called adverse effects. The healing plants are natural but they are not the natural substitute of the pharmacological drug.
Most of the herbs are quite safe and they affect us in complex manner that would be hard to understand from pharmacological view of specific action at specific site.
Attributing The Effects Of Herbs To A Single Constituent Is A Blasphemy:
The greatest and the worst trend in the research of Herbal Medicine is chasing after the active ingredient in the herbs. It is jut OK to isolate the active ingredient for sake of research and for evaluation for use in modern medicine.
Herbal plants have several type of phytochemical ingredients – cellulose, tannins, mucilage, volatile oils, alkaloids, flavonoids, minerals … – practically scores of them. To assign the effect of a whole herb preparation to a single active ingredient would be denying the commonsense and scientific temperament.
Why do we think that there should be the same laws applicable to herbs and drugs? In nature, we find different kinds of forces exerting their effects differently – the gravitational force acting through gravity or mass, the electromagnetic force, the chemical energy in chemical bonds, the atomic energy etc. Even in pharmacology there are scores of methods in which a drug exerts its effects.
Many studies confirmed that the individual active ingredient doesn’t possess the same effect as the whole herb. Sometimes as in passionflower, the active ingredients might exert the opposite effects. The whole herb ingredients act on the active ingredients in several ways – assisting, resisting, additive, synergistic, buffering, modifying, reducing it side effects etc.
The holistic approach of the herbs is rooted in more depth than the conventional medicine approach. It is based in the concept of Prana or Vital force or Universal Life force.
Some Medicinal Herbs Simulating The Effects Of Their Active Principle:
There are relatively few herbs that have almost same effects as the active ingredients – as Digitalis, opium. These kind of herbs usually come under regulatory authorities and these are not available freely as in India. In UK they are also restricted.
Non-Specificity Of Medicinal Herbs & Their Side Benefits:
The underlying principle for the introduction of a drug in the market is the ratio of benefit and risk. However herbs have side effects and I call them as Side-Benefits of medicinal herbs. The different ingredients of a single herb can exert different actions on various systems and this may look as their non-specificity of action. But they do generally act to serve in definite therapeutic direction.
Take the example of Ashwagandha. The term adaptogenic is coined primarily to describe the actions of such herbs as Ashwagandha and Ginseng. From the ayurvedic point of view, a herb starts to exert its action when we taste it in the mouth, when it is being digested in gastro-intestinal tract, when it is being assimilated and metabolized and even when it is being excreted out from the system.
After all the multi-systemic actions of herbs affirm our holistic nature.
Medicinal Herbs Heal Naturally:
Yes, Herbs heal naturally. Herbs provide an aid to the body’s natural healing process. That is why it is reputed that herbal healing is able to eradicate a disease process from its root. Let us get to this point with the help of the example of Arthritis.
Conventional medicine asserts arthritis to be a degenerative disorder. The therapeutic protocol is first giving NSAID’s or general painkillers and later corticosteroids like Prednisolone is frequently prescribed. Prednisolone does give the symptomatic relief but it increases the degeneration process resulting in more degeneration.
On the contrary, the herbal medicine advises some adaptogenic herbs checking the process the root pathology – the degeneration. With some massage and exercise and some herbs for arthritis we are able to relieve the symptoms as well as the disease without the contrary damaging effects.
Medicinal Herbs Heal Holistically:
Herbal medicine respects the integral and holistic nature of our body, mind and soul or spirit. That is why herbs offer a great promise in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Many herbs have their actions on mind along with effects on body. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic as well as calming to the mind and strengthening the nerves.
That is why Medicinal herbs heal naturally, spontaneously and holistically.