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A national survey done by Prevention magazine in 1997 revealed that about one-third of adult Americans, or about 60 million people, say that they frequently use herbal remedies. Americans spend an average of $54 per person on herbs each year—about $3.2 billion as a nation. What's more, a 1993 survey reported in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that 7 in 10 people using herbal products do so without telling their health-care providers.

Herb - Ginkgo

Pharmacists and doctors in the United States are learning more about herbal products and know that they can produce drug or drug-like effects. Many practitioners are adding them to their practices; all encourage their patients to tell them what herbal remedies they are taking and how much of each they take

While herbal supplements have enjoyed a surge of popularity during recent years in the United States, they have been very popular in Europe and Asia, particularly in China. The practice of using herbs dates back thousands of years. Today in America, conventional drug manufacturers are adding herbal ingredients to their products to satisfy consumer demand.

Why herbs?

People choose herbs for all sorts of reasons: because they hear from others that they works, because they feel it's natural and believe it's likely to have much less side effects than drugs, or because they prefer its holistic approach.

Herbal medicines can be used to treat health problems that are short-lived (acute) or firmly established (chronic). It is a matured therapy with thousands of years of proven worth.

In America, herbs have been defined as Dietary Supplements by FDA. Herbs are the most nutritious of all foods. Nutrition is the basis for good health and prevention of illness. They are ideal for health maintenance because you can take them every day, providing the nutrients your heart and other organs need, without danger of harming your body.

Although being "dietary supplements" doesn't make something automatically safe. But, on the whole, the side effects seem to be much milder and more infrequent than for pharmaceutical drugs. A study recently completed and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that in 1994, in hospitals, over 106,000 patients died and 2.2 million were made ill by drugs prescribed by doctors. That does not include those that died, or were made ill, at home.

In short, the main benefits of herbs includes:

  • Matured therapy with thousands of years of proven worth.
  • Rejuvenates the body's organs to correct symptoms at their root causes.
  • Long-term results
  • No chemical residues due to natural ingredients
How do herbs work?

People have always relied on plants for food to nourish and sustain the body. Herbal medicine can be seen in the same way but contain much rich nutrition of all foods. For example, Burdock Root (articum lappa) is excellent for building and strengthening the entire system. It is high in a variety of minerals, especially iron, thus enriching the life force of blood. Its also a cleansing effect for the liver and the lymph systems. In US, herbs are Dietary Supplements.

Plants with a particular affinity for certain organs or systems of the body are used to 'feed' and restore to health those parts which have become weakened. As the body is strengthened so its ability and power to fight disease is increased, and when balance and harmony are restored, health will be regained.

We all have a healing, or immune system that operates continually and is always on call. Herbs allow us to cooperate with the healing system to repair damage done by injury, lifestyle, environment, toxins, drugs, etc. There are many herbs that will strengthen the immune system and help protect our health.

Research results show that herbs produce oil sacs between the cells of their leaves, flowers and roots, which are filled with essential oils. These oils contain between 50 and over 2,000 chemical constituents, the active ingredients responsible for the healing and balancing effects of herbs.

Because of their diverse chemical make-up, they are effective in small doses and produce few side effects. Some herbs work as general tonics that cleanse, nourish and rebuild on a cellular level. Others have an affinity for a specific system or organ, and may be used to treat related imbalances or symptoms. They work gently and naturally to support the body's own healing process.

Herbs vs. drugs

The differences in between herbs and pharmaceutical drugs exist in many aspects. A key difference is that drugs directly attack or "kill" disease, whereas herbs rely on the use of various measures to strengthen the body so it can fight the disease itself.

Herbs act as a supplement to provide our body with micro-nutrients. They take time to work. A drug can provide almost instant relief from symptoms. However, they do not work to supply these nutrients the body needs to repair itself. Suppressing symptoms is a short-term answer to a long-standing problem. Unfortunately, most of us would rather find a "quick fix in a pill" rather than expend the effort necessary to build health.

Of course, the drug companies always say that their unique molecules are better, stronger, more targeted and safer than herbs. I'll readily agree that they are stronger. In fact, they're often too strong and have bad side effects that their herbal precursors might not have.

In January, 1999, Business Week reported the fourth leading cause of hospitalizations: damage from FDA-approved drugs, affecting 2.2 million people a year. Americans are dying, one every three to five minutes, from the effects of FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs, used as directed!

As for pharmaceuticals being better, that's hard to say drug is more effective than herbs. In some studies, herbs clearly perform better. Ginger, for example, has been shown to be superior to the pharmaceutical dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) as a preventive therapy for motion sickness.

Drugs are usually used to control symptoms, but don't necessarily do anything about the cause. For example, antibiotics kill bacteria but do not improve a person's resistance to infection; diuretics drain excess fluid from the body but do not improve the kidney function. The more drugs we use, the more damage we are doing to our natural defenses against disease. Herbs heal; drugs can kill.

In addition, drug are usually prescribed for their effectiveness on a group of people. Chinese herbs are classified according to certain active characteristics (such as heating, cooling, moisturizing, or drying) and are prescribed according to how they influence the various organ systems. The patient will receive herbs designed to treat his individual pattern as well as the symptom or disease.

Herbal pills

The Chinese herbal medicine can be made into several forms according to its properties and the needs of treatment. The commonly seen forms for internal treatment are decoction, syrup and pill.

The concentrated pills are mostly welcome as they contain very effective components, small in size and dosage, convenient to use and fit for treating various diseases. It is also used to continue therapeutic results.

Herbal pills, produced by combining powdered medicinal substances (the Materia Medica includes mineral and animal substances in addition to plant material or herbs) with water, honey, rice powder, or wax as binders, and are known as Zhong Cheng Yao or "Ready-to-be-Taken-Medicine." The prepared herbals are based on well-known classical formulas and are produced by manufacturers meeting the strict quality control standards of China’s Drug Control Act, 1985.

In America, these prepared herbal pills are commonly referred to as "Patent" medicine. The history and development of Patent medications parallels that of Chinese herbology itself. By 1155, the first Imperial formulary describing over 700 prepared medicines was published and the first formal pharmacological manufacturing facility established. By 1368 during the Ming dynasty, smaller, privately-owned pharmacies were developed, and through the Qing dynasty the production of medicine in pill form was accelerated.

The oldest herbal pharmaceutical manufacturer in China today, Tong Ren Tang, established in 1669, is located in Beijing and has been at the same address since 1702, 74 years before George Washington and Paul Revere!

Conditions treatable with herbs

Herbs have been most effective when used in combination within various synergistic formulas that have been developed for treatment of specific health problems and issues. The following is a list of conditions and/or diseases which often can be prevented or treated by the healing action of herbs.

Condition Major Herbs
Abscesses Astragalus, Echinacea
AIDS St. John's Wort
Alcohol Abuse Kudzu, Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Alzheimer's Disease Ginkgo
Anal Fissures Gotu Kola
Anxiety Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Passion Flower, Valerian
Arthritis Angelica, Astragalus, Boswellia, Cayenne, Cilantro and Coriander, Devil's Claw, Juniper, Licorice, Meadowsweet, Oil of Evening Primrose, Turmeric
Asthma Astragalus, Coffee, Eucalyptus, Kola
Athlete's Foot Goldenseal
Bacterial Infections Clove, Dill, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Garlic, Goldenseal
Blood Clots Garlic, Ginseng
Blood Pressure Garlic, Hawthorn
Bronchitis Coffee, Eucalyptus
Bruises Allspice, Chamomile
Burns Aloe, Astragalus, Echinacea, Gotu Kola, Marsh Mallow, Peppermint, St. John's Wort
Cancer Angelica, Astragalus, Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada, Garlic, Ginseng, Gotu Kola, Rosemary, Tea, Turmeric, White Willow
Canker Sores Goldenseal
Chest Congestion Coffee, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Tea
Cholesterol (High) Cayenne, Celery Seed, Garlic, Ginseng, Gugulipid
Circulation (Poor) Cayenne, Garlic, Ginkgo Biloba, Gotu Kola, Hawthorn
Colds / Flu Allspice, Angelica, Astragalus, Coffee, Echinacea, Garlic, Goldenseal Root, Peppermint, Tea
Cold Sores Balm, Cascara Sagrada, Peppermint
Colic Cilantro and Coriander, Dill, Fennel
Colon Cancer White Willow
Constipation Aloe, Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada, Psyllium, Senna
Coughs Angelica, Licorice, Marsh Mallow, Mullein, Thyme, Wild Cherry Bark
Cuts Aloe, Cilantro and Coriander, Clove, Eucalyptus, Marsh Mallow, Sage, Thyme
Depression (Mild) St. John's Wort, Valerian
Detoxification Milk Thistle (Silymarin)
Diabetes Cinnamon, Garlic
Diaper Rash Chamomile
Diarrhea Astragalus, Cilantro and Coriander, Cinnamon, Clove, Dill, Fennel, Ginger, Goldenseal, Kola, Meadowsweet, Peppermint
Digestion (Poor) Allspice, Cayenne, Chamomile, Cilantro and Coriander, Clove, Dill, Fennel, Ginger, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage
Dizziness (Chronic) Ginkgo
Drowsiness Coffee, Kola, Tea
Ears (Ringing In) Ginkgo
Epilepsy Gotu Kola
Esophageal Cancer White Willow
Fatigue Angelica, Coffee, Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng), Panax Ginseng
Fever Balm, Black Haw, Meadowsweet, Turmeric, White Willow
Flu Angelica, Coffee, Echinacea, Ginger, Meadowsweet, Tea
Foot Pain (in Diabetes) Cayenne
Fungal Infections Cinnamon, Garlic, Goldenseal
Gas (Flatulence) Allspice, Cilantro and Coriander, Dill, Fennel, Peppermint
Gum Disease Cinnamon
Headache Black Haw, Cayenne, Coffee, Kola, Meadowsweet, White Willow
Heart Disease Cayenne, Garlic, Tea, Turmeric
Hemorrhoids Horse Chestnut, Mullein, Witch Hazel (topical)
Herpes Balm, Cascara Sagrada, Ginseng, Licorice
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Celery Weed, Feverfew, Garlic, Juniper, Valerian
Hyperactivity Gotu Kola
Impotence Ginkgo
Immunity (Lowered) Angelica, Echinacea, Garlic, Ginseng, Goldenseal, Marsh Mallow
Indigestion Allspice, Balm, Chamomile, Cilantro and Coriander, Cinnamon, Dill, Feverfew, Peppermint, Thyme
Infections Aloe, Astragalus, Cilantro and Coriander, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Goldenseal, Thyme
Inflammation Chamomile, Cilantro and Coriander, Gotu Kola, Licorice, White Willow
Insect Bites & Stings Balm, Clove, Mullein
Insomnia Gotu Kola, Hops, Lemon Balm, Passion Flower, Valerian
Irritable Bowel Movement Peppermint
Jet Lag Coffee
Joint Pain Allspice, Cayenne
Liver Dysfunction Ginseng, Milk Thistle (Silymarin), Turmeric
Memory Loss (Forgetfulness) Ginkgo Biloba, Gotu Kola
Menstrual Irregularities / PMS Allspice, Angelica, Balm, Black Haw, Chamomile, Dong Quai, Feverfew, Juniper, Meadowsweet, Oil of Evening Primrose, Rosemary, Thyme, Valerian
Migraines (Headaches) Feverfew, White Willow
Morning Sickness Ginger
Motion Sickness Ginger
Muscle Cramps or Spasms Valerian
Muscle Soreness Allspice, Cayenne, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Peppermint
Nausea Ginger, Chamomile, Peppermint
Nervousness Astragalus, Balm, Chamomile, Valerian
Numbness (in Legs) Gotu Kola
Pain Allspice, Black Haw, Cayenne, Kola, Meadowsweet, Peppermint, White Willow
Perspiration Problems Sage
Prostate Enlargement (Benign) Saw Palmetto, Stinging Nettle Root
Rectal Cancer White Willow
Respiratory Problems Angelica, Tea
Shingles Cayenne
Skin Conditions Calendula, Chamomile (topical), Clove, Gotu Kola, Tea Tree Oil (topical)
Skin Infections Clove
Skin Irritation Chamomile
Skin Ulcers Gotu Kola
Sore Throat Goldenseal, Licorice, Marsh Mallow, Mullein, Sage
Stomach Cancer Garlic, Ginseng, White Willow
Stomach Upset Chamomile, Cilantro and Coriander, Cinnamon, Clove, Dill, Peppermint, Rosemary
Stress / Tension Eleuthero, Ginseng, Kava Kava, Passion Flower, Valerian
Stroke Garlic, White Willow
Sunburn Aloe
Swelling Chamomile
Toothache Allspice, Chamomile, Clove
Tooth Decay Cinnamon
Traveler's Diarrhea Clove
Ulcers Aloe Juice, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Licorice, Meadowsweet, Turmeric
Urinary Tract Problems Cinnamon, Cranberry, Uva Ursi
Varicose Veins Bilberry, Gotu Kola, Horse Chestnut, Witch Hazel (topical)
Viral Diseases & Infections Astragalus, Balm, Cascara Sagrada, Cinnamon, Clove, Echinacea, Eucalyptus, Garlic, Ginseng, Goldenseal
Water Retention Celery Seed, Dandelion Leaf, Tea, Uva Ursi
Wounds Aloe, Balm, Cilantro and Coriander, Clove, Echinacea, Goldenseal, Gotu Kola, Marsh Mallow, Mullein, Peppermint, Sage, St. John's Wort
Yeast Infections Cinnamon

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