In recent years, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), a collection of unconventional therapies, has come to play an important role in the preventioIn recent years, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), a collection of unconventional therapies, has come to play an important role in the prevention and treatment of diseases. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) groups CAM therapies into four domains:
The most commonly used CAM fall into the categories of biologically based practice.
Biological CAM treatments usually include:
Herbal medicines include herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations and finished herbal products, that contain as active ingredients parts of plants, or other plant materials, or combinations. Here are the details about each type:
Herbs: crude plant material such as leaves, flowers, fruit, seed, stems, wood, bark, roots, rhizomes or other plant parts, which may be entire, fragmented or powdered.
Herbal materials: in addition to herbs, fresh juices, gums, fixed oils, essential oils, resins and dry powders of herbs. In some countries, these materials may be processed by various local procedures, such as steaming, roasting, or stir-baking with honey, alcoholic beverages or other materials.
Herbal preparations: the basis for finished herbal products and may include comminuted or powdered herbal materials, or extracts, tinctures and fatty oils of herbal materials. They are produced by extraction, fractionation, purification, concentration, or other physical or biological processes. They also include preparations made by steeping or heating herbal materials in alcoholic beverages and/or honey, or in other materials.
Finished herbal products: herbal preparations made from one or more herbs. If more than one herb is used, the term mixture herbal product can also be used. Finished herbal products and mixture herbal products may contain excipients in addition to the active ingredients. However, finished products or mixture products to which chemically defined active substances have been added, including synthetic compounds and/or isolated constituents from herbal materials, are not considered to be herbal.
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of the world's population uses plant-based remedies as their primary form of healthcare.
The most common reasons for using traditional medicine are that it is more affordable, more closely corresponds to the patient’s ideology, allays concerns about the adverse effects of chemical (synthetic) medicines, satisfies a desire for more personalized health care, and allows greater public access to health information.
Herbal medicine is used to treat many conditions, such as allergies, asthma, eczema, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraine, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer, among others. It is best to take herbal supplements under the guidance of a trained provider.
The most commonly used herbal supplements include:
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Ginseng (Panax ginseng or Asian ginseng) and Panax
quinquefolius or American ginseng)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum)
Some health care providers, including doctors and pharmacists, are trained in herbal medicine. They can help people create treatment plans that use herbs, conventional medications, and lifestyle changes to promote health
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