Herbs, also called botanical medicine or herbalism, are the founding principles
of modern medicines. Some may even argue
that some old recipes of herbal mixtures are better than modern medicine. These
herbs have several different uses, and have been used for treating a
simple cause of dry skin to radiation sickness and much more. With such a large range of known uses the
possible applications of medicinal herbs is almost endless, while scientist are
still discovering more and more uses for these medicinal plants still today. But
to get a better understanding of medicinal herbs and their uses we will have to
look at them through historical and modern uses. And the potential future uses of these
seemingly magical plants.
have been using herbal medicines for thousands and thousands of years, since
before history was recorded. Some documents of herbs date as far back as 2700
B.C. A 60,000-year-old burial site in Iraq showed evidence of eight different
medicinal plants.Therefore, the exact time herbal medicines came into play is
unsure. This makes herbal medicine the oldest form of healthcare known to man. In the past lots of herbs were used for
incorrect applications based on the way a plant was shaped or just because the
plant grew in a particular area. This
lead to much misuse of medicinal herbs for several thousand years. In the early years of medicinal herb use
herbs were thought to have mystical powers and where even used during rituals
by native tribes from around the world, most likely because of their healing
properties. Though over the years people,
mainly physicians to begin with, began taking a more practical and scientific
view of herbal medicines. Greek
Physician Hippocrates was one of the first people to consider illness a natural
phenomenon and stated medicine should be administered without the use of “magic”.
Hippocrates also developed the first system of diagnoses and prognosis with herbs.
During the middle ages, much knowledge of medicinal herbs was lost to the
public but by 1652, Nicholas Culpeper wrote an herbal that systematically
listed all herbal remedies known at the time, he dedicated his work to the
common people so they wouldn’t have to buy expensive concoctions made by the
physicians of the time. Many advances
have been made in herbalism since then including the organization and
categorization of herbs, not including the many uses discovered for them.
Native tribes began keeping track of which
plants could be used to heal or treat certain illnesses when the herbs first
started being used. This knowledge would be passed down from generation to
generation before the uses could be documented on paper. Many native tribes believed herbs to have
mystical powers and where used in many stories by the tribe members. These so called mystical powers could range
from healing capabilities to inducing visions that allowed a person to speak
with their God or Gods. Due to these
false accusations many tribes would use them in spiritual rituals in various
ways. But at any rate this is how native
tribes would pass down their knowledge of medicinal herbs to the next
genertion. And eventually people began
documenting which herbs could be used for what and recording this information
on paper instead of relying on oral documentation. In fact many known medicinal
herbs were derived from native tribes and their knowledge of herbal
medicines. Native tribes obtained their
knowledge of herbs from observing wild animals and through trial and error. Native Americans have been known to use
several medicinal herbs such as the passion flower. When the leaves dried, they would either
smoke them or make tea with them. The
tea made from passion flowers can be used to help get rid of restlessness and
help one sleep better through the night. One of the most comprehensive herbal
written was by Nicholas Culpeper in 1652. This herbal was written for the
common people so they would not have to buy expensive concoctions made by
physicians. For many centuries, there was much confusion in the world of
herbalism. In the early 1700’s, Swedish botanist Carl von Linné, better
known as Linnaeus, developed the system of binomial nomenclature that gave a
unique Swedish name to every known species of herbs. With this the world of herbalism became much
more organized and easier to understand.
Before this book was published many herbs shared names and even had
multiple names, causing many misunderstandings in what herbs to use. In today’s world herbs are far more organized
and categorized. Which also means that
the use of medicinal herbs has become much easier and a lot less confusing than
it has been in recent years.
If you ever find yourself in the wild lost and
trying to survive these are some herbs to keep an eye out for. Broad leaf or Narrow leaf plantain this plant
can be smashed or chewed up and used on wounds, the young tender leaves can be
eaten as well in soup, stew or salad. The
best way to be prepared for surviving in the wild is to study herbs and edible
plants that are indigenous to the habitat you live in. A nice herb to look out for when trying to
survive is Speedwell. Speedwell is
simple and affective as a lotion, it is applied to the skin to speed the
healing process of cuts and scratches, as well as relieve itching. If a cut is too deep to stop bleeding on its
own you can use fresh leaves from Agrimony, Yarrow, and/or Rose. Yarrow has been known as a wound herb since
the ancient times. It was said that
Achilles used this herbs to heal the bleeding wounds of his men. Clove is a good herb to use to clean an
injury, it kills bacteria and fungi to help prevent infection of the wound, it
can also be used to help relieve pain from a toothache But while in the wild cuts may not be the
only kind of injury you sustain. You may
also get burnt. In case of a burn wound
you could use an herb called aloe.
Common things that happen when lost in the wild included sunburns and
frostbite depending on where you got lost.
Balm of Gilead can be used in such cases as sunburn and frostbite. It also can be used to treat other skin
injuries. Another injury likely to occur
when you become lost is broken bones. It
may be hard to believe but there are herbs that even help heal broken
bones. One such herb as this is called
comfrey. Comfrey is actually a very
useful herb; it can be used to treat abrasions, cuts, bronchitis, bruises,
sprains, diabetes, eczema, osteoarthritis and can even be used for
cancer prevention. Also an interesting
fact about herbs, most herbs are not attacked by insects of by dieseases,
although some herbs are effected by this many are not.
Herbs are still in use today. About 25% of
prescription drugs in the United States contain at least one active ingredient
derived from an herbal plant. In most cases the active ingredient is extracted
from the herb so that it is more potent than it would be using the actual
herb. More and more practitioners are
looking at herbal remedies because of the lower cost, and often safer use. A lot of the time physicians use a medicinal
herb to help offset a side effect that may occur from medication that they have
prescribed to a patient. Although there
is extensive research being done on herbs and what all they may be used to cure
or treat with, the problem is medicinal herbs don’t produce the exact same
amount of active ingredients from plant to plant. Do to this fact physicians cannot prescribe a
dosage amount that can be repeated. Most
research being done on medicinal herbs is to find a way to have the herbs
produce the same amount of ingredient every time they are grown and to find a
cheap, inexpensive way of doing this. This task may sound easy but it is a lot
harder than it sounds to get all the plants you need to produce the same way. Although several uses have already been
discovered for medicinal herbs there is still a lot to learn about them and
almost endless possibilities for uses that remain undiscovered.
people believe that growing herbs is just as easy or just like growing a
regular plant. But they are wrong. Herbs require much more attention and
care. They can be grown indoors or
outdoors. For the beginner herbal
gardner it may be difficult to decide which herbs you want in your garden, just
keep in mind what you want to use the herbs for in mind there is plenty of
information on the internet to help you with your decision. When growing herbs keep in mind you should
refrain from the use of chemical fertilizers.
If you do than the herbs you are growing can’t be used for any kind of
human consumption. Whether it be for
food flavoring or for a home remedy for an illness. It is advised to put down manure during autumn
so it can break down into compost and nutrients. You can also do this again once your herbs
begin to sprout. You will also need to
put down some mulch to help keep moisture in the ground. How much sunlight the herbs will need depends
on the herb, some like lots of sunshine while other like lots of shade, some
like to have a balance of shade and sun.
Some herbs can be grown from seed but other you will need a part of the
herb to plant into the ground. This
could be a stem or roots from the desired herb.
Before planting an herbs outside you must let it sprout in a separate
pot then transplant it to the desired location.
You will want to transplant the seedlings once they are four to six
weeks old. Before you put them in your
garden you will need to let the herb get used to being outside by leaving the
seedling outdoors for one hour in a sheltered area gradually increasing the
time for ten days. After this process is complete you can transplant your
seedling into an outdoor gardening area.
If you do not have a space available for a garden you can continue
growing the herbs in separate pots.
Watering of the herbs depends on your location and the herb you are
growing. In dry areas a permenanet
irrigation system may be necessary. With
all of this information in mind you are ready to being your own herbal garden.
course knowing which plants can be used as medicine and knowing how to use the
plant as a medicine are two completely different things. In herbal mixtures any part of the plants can
be used, from the seeds to stems, leaves, flowers and even the roots of the plant.
For example passiflora uses its leaves and roots to help treat insomnia,
hysteria and epilepsy. Plantain can be
used to treat colds and the flu. This
remedy says to use 1 table spoon of whole plantain (seeds, stem and leaves
included), dry or fresh, to one cup of boiling water. Particular herbs only use certain parts of
the plant. The part of the plant that is
being used is usually the part where the active ingredient for the medicine
that is need is the most potent.
Different parts of an herb can have a larger amount of different active
ingredients. This could be dangerous
when an herb may be prescribed to a patient because the amount that is needed
to be taken could vary depending on how potent the herb that was used was. Keeping this in mind it could be easier to
overdose on an herb than on a prescription medication, depending on how much of
a certain chemical the plant yielded.
Although overdosing on a medicinal herb is almost unheard of. Perhaps the most common herb someone has
overdosed on is salvia. Salvia when
smoked will cause haulucinagins and when a large amount is consumed it may
cause some serious permenant problems.
In one case a man OD’d on salvia and now her can no longer walk or
drive, he lost all sense of balance and has problems with self-cleanliness.
poisonous plants bear very beautiful flowers.
This is usually a dead giveaway for poisonous plants, they usually look
very beautiful and/or exotic, you will probably be very tempted to pluck the
example the Foxglove plant has bell shaped flowers with purple and white spots
on them and they hang towards the ground instead of pointing upwards. Ingesting foxglove can cause nausea,
vomiting, abdominal pain, cardiovascular shock and even death when enough of
the plant is consumed. Several of these
poisonous plants can also grow berries.
Berries will vary with each poisonous plant there is and there may be
little to no similarities in the berries that are found on these plants. Some poisonous plants even have prickly stems;
sometimes the stem will have multiple colors in it. Leaves and flowers can also give away a
poisonous plant. The leaves and flowers
on these sometimes deadly plants can be identified by the way they grow from
the stem of the plant. Some poisonous
plants can be easily mistaken as a safe edible plant. But there is no guaranteed way to tell if a
plant is poisonous just by looking at it, unless you just so happen to be an
expert on plants. Being able to tell the
difference between a poisonous and non-poisonous plant can be the difference
between life and death when trying to survive in the wild. So it would be best to keep a book of
indigenous herbs with you whenever you go hiking or camping on long outdoor trips.
and some herbs are controversial.
Perhaps one of the most controversial herbs is medical marijuana. Although the herb has been proved to have
helpful uses it is illegal to have unless a physician has written a
prescription for its use. An interesting
and little know fact about marijuana is that it is least damaging illegal
drug. In fact marijuana is less harmful
to a person than tobacco or alcohol yet neither tobacco nor alcohol is illegal. So why is marijuana illegal if it has helpful
uses and is less harmful than other legal substances? One reason being that marijuana is perceived
as an addictive drug. Also its medical
uses are not yet widely accepted enough to be legalized. Another highly controversial herb is salvia,
but for good reason this time. Unlike
marijuana that has no records of ever killing someone, salvia on the other hand
has several cases of overdosing many resulting in death. Salvia is a smokable herb that causes
haulucinagins or induced visions.
Although its not illegal to have salvia in your possesion in all states
it is illegal to have salvia with the intentions of consuming the plant for
recreational uses. Not many herbs are
illegal, but when they are it is usally for a very good reason. So do not try to use any herbs that are
illegal, because many of them could be potentially deadly.
our senior papers have to have a product for the senior project, I will try one
of the following with herbal medicines.
My product will be to use an herbal mixture to help me to quit smoking
cigarettes and to repair as much damage that has been done to my lungs as
possible. Herbs that I may use in this
product include Coltsfoot to help soothe inflamed lung tissue; Garlic to help
counteract the addictive properties of nicotine, Kava kava to help with
depression or moods swings that may occur while quitting cigarettes,Licoriceas
an adrenal tonic it helps restore energy while it soothes the lungs, lobeline
in Lobelia , commonly known as Indian tobacco, acts much like nicotine although
it is less potent the herb can help fool the body into thinking it has nicotine
in the system,Mullein soothes irritated lungs and speeds healing of damaged
tissues, and Turmeric helps to remove
carcinogens that smoking puts into your lungs.
With a mixture of these plants I might not only quit smoking but may
also be able to repair some of the damage I have done to my lungs.
conclusion of my research paper concerning medicinal herbs. Hopefully you have learned almost as much as
I did in writing this paper, including the origin, history, and documentation
of these helpful plants. I also hope
that some of the mixtures I included in my paper might help you some way. And if you ever find yourself lost in the
wilderness or are out on a long camping trip and forgot your first aid kit
remember to look out for herbs that could potentially save your life. And as you have learned from this paper,
people’s knowledge of medicinal plants has come a long way. From thinking that these plants had magical
powers to understanding what makes these plants helpful and finding new and
better ways to use them. And as we move
to the future I believe once we completely understand medicinal herbs that they
will replace all other medications.