Herbal Medicine

15 March 2013

Go natural... go herbal... go organic. This is now the battlecry of many people of different cultures; of different races; of different ages; of different lifestyle; and of different professions.

Simply, herbal products in its strict sense are those products that are prepared from plants without using additives, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors.

Herbal products can be classified into herbal medicine, personal care and herbal cosmetics and herbal foods.

Herbal medicine (sometimes referred to as herbalism or botanical medicine) is the use of herb plant or plant parts for the treatment or prevention of diseases, disorders and the promotion of good health.

Here are some interesting and revealing trivia about herbal medicine:-

• Do you know that herbal medicine has a long and respected history? In fact, herbal medicine is the oldest form of health care known to mankind;

• Do you know that many drugs commonly used today are of herbal origin;

• Do you know that herbal healing has been passed from generation to generation by word of mouth? Although for the past many years, subjects on herbalism are now being offered in some educational institutions;

• Do you know that to date, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4 billion people (80% of world population) use herbal medicine in one form or another;

• Do you know that there are over 750,000 plants on earth? It is saddening to note that to date very few of the healing herbs have been studied scientifically;

• Do you know that there are 10 medicinal plants that our Philippine Department of Health (DOH) has endorsed - after these 10 herbs have been tested and have been clinically proven to have medicinal value in the relief and treatment of home ailments? These herbs are: Akapulko (Cassia alata) - also known as "bayabas-bayabasan" and "ringworm bush" in English; Ampalaya (Momordica charantia) - known as "bitter gourd" or "bitter melon" in English; Bawang (Allium sativum) - popularly known as "garlic"; Bayabas (Psidium guajava) - "guava" in English; Lagundi (Vitex negundo) - known in English as the "5-leaved chaste tree"; Niyog-Niyogan (Quisqualis indica L.) - is a vine known as "Chinese honey suckle"; Sambong (Blumea balsamifera) - English name: Blumea camphora; Tsaang Gubat (Ehretia microphylla Lam.); Ulasimang Bato (Peperomia pellucida) - also known as "pansit-pansitan"; Yerba Buena (Clinopodium douglasii) - commonly known as peppermint.

• Do you know that medicinal parts of plants are best harvested on sunny mornings and leaves, fruits or nuts should not be picked during and after heavy rainfall;

• Do you know that ginkgo biloba is considered by many as the oldest herb known in human history? Fossils of ginkgo biloba trees have been found dating back to the Paleozoic era millions of years ago;

• Do you know that the leaves of ginkgo biloba have been used in China as one of the most popular herb remedies for over five thousand years;

• Do you know that to maximize its healing power, herbal plants should be boiled in earthen, enameled glass and not stainless steel utensils;

• Do you know that even the Bible makes references to herbal medicine? In the Book of Ezekiel, Jesus says "the fruit of the tree is for man's meat, and the leaves for man's medicine."

Herbal medicine is God's blessings to us. Even before antibiotics and other pharmaceutical preparations were introduced in our society - herbal plants were already being used as medicine.

Have a joyful day!

Note: My articles under this column will NOT be appearing during the period covering from March 28, 2013 to May 14, 2013. This is to comply with the provisions of Republic Act No. 9006 dated February 12, 2001, otherwise known as the Fair Election Act. I am running for a congressional seat in the 3rd District of Camarines Sur. My articles will be resumed immediately after the election ban.