What if a treatment for heart disease was discovered in our hedges?Or a treatment for cancer, in the food chain? Or a treatment for depression in our local park? This is the secret power of herbal medicine that the pharmaceutical industry does not want you to know!

Definition:
Medicinal plants are plants known for their medicinal benefits and used to treat and prevent disease. You are probably familiar with St John’s Wort used to treat depression or Passion flower for the treatment of anxiety.

National Geographic estimate that there are around 80,000 medicinal plants worldwide. Medicinal plants are ‘prescriptions from Nature’.

We have a wealth of archeological evidence showing that medicinal plants have been used for thousands of years. China and India are renowned for their use of medicinal plants with traditions dating back thousands of years.

Chemistry
The fundamental physical nature of herbal medicine is chemical. Plant chemicals are called phy-to-chemicals. The active chemical of each herb are different. Chamomile contains Volatile oil which evaporate on contact with the air. This oil inhibits the spread of bacteria giving chamomile its anti-inflamatory action. St John’s wort contains hypericin, which helps in the production of dopamine and serotonin, giving St Johns Wort it anti-depressant action.
The actual healing power of a medicinal plant results from the synergy of numerous chemicals interacting within the plant. Herbal medicine is scientific without being reductionist. Pharmaceutical companies believe by extracting these chemicals individually they harness the power of the medicinal plant, but this is not the case. The real power of the plant is in its synergy. Synergy means working together – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Evidence base 
Herbal medicine has wide evidence base both in clinical practice and in research. It is evidence based medicine!

There is a wealth of Academic Journals publishing research into the effectiveness of medicinal plants

Journal of Natural Medicine
European Journal of Medicinal Plants
Journal of Herbal Medicine
International Journal of Medicinal Plants and Alternative Medicine
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
International journal of Green and Herbal Chemistry
International Journal of Indigenous Medicinal Plants
Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy
International Journal of Herbs and Pharmacological Research
Journal of Medicinal Plants Research
Academia Journal of Medicinal Plants
International Journal of Traditional and Herbal Medicine
International Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine

Economics of medicinal plants 
Sales of herbal supplements in the US in 2012 were worth over $5 billion. Interest in Herbal Medicine is on the rise as the cost of health care rises and the side effects of pharmaceuticals out weight their benefits.

Check out my website at www.drtomobrien.ie for more information on herbal medicine.