Botanical medicine, also known as herbal medicine, involves the use of plants to treat disease and promote health. The art of using plants medicinally has been used long before recorded history. Egyptian papyrus and ancient Chinese writings dating back more than 3,000 years BC describe medicinal uses for plants. Traditional medical systems, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine and indigenous cultures used herbs in healing. Most interesting is that researchers have found that the same or similar plants have been used for the same purpose in different parts of the world.
As scientists began to extract and modify the active ingredients from plants to make pharmaceutical drugs, the use of herbs dropped out of favor. Since patents guarantee the profitability of drugs, research for new drugs dominates scientific studies. However, it has been firmly established that isolation of plant constituents results in harmful side effects. Using the whole plant, which contains many ingredients that work together synergistically, produce beneficial effects without harmful side effects.
Many herbalists have devoted their entire lives to the study of the healing abilities of plants. The information they have generated is one of the most treasured resources in the healing arts. Their dedication and hard work have identified the various parts of plants and methods of preparation that provide powerful medicinal properties for healing and nurturance of the body/mind/soul.
Botanical medicine is paramount in women’s medicine because there are so many applications that herbs can be helpful in, such as menopausal symptoms, PMS symptoms, cervical dysplasia, uterine fibroids, amenorrhea, menorrhagia, metromenorrhagia, polymenorrhagia, lactation, pregnancy, thyroid dysfunction, weight control, adrenal fatigue, adjunct cancer treatment, immune boosting, mood enhancement, soothing/healing the gastrointestinal tract, aiding digestion, and improving cardiovascular health to name only a few.
At the Women’s Health and Healing Center, herbs are used to promote gentle and effective healing of appropriate situations. We like to explain that it can take a little longer for the effects to be realized, but isn’t it worth it to know that harmful side effects are minimal or nonexistent, especially when compared to high dose single chemicals (pharmaceutical drugs)? Think of it this way. Using pharmaceuticals is analogous to using a sledge hammer to force a square peg into a round hole by forcing it to conform. The side effects are many – tearing, splintering, etc., and usually require further treatment. Sometimes this is necessary, especially if organs or body systems are endangered. However, many situations can be rectified by normalizing body functions. Herbal therapy allows for healing of oneself with compassion and understanding as the herbs gently coax the body to return to optimal physiological balance.