Botanical Medicine involves the use of plant substances for their healing effects and nutritional value. Such use of plants dates back to the beginnings of civilization and therefore much of the knowledge of their healing properties originates from historical use. Current technology allows us to have a greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying the medicinal action of many plants, as well as to identify their constituents, contradictions and interactions.
As much as 80 percent of the world’s population depend on plants to treat many common ailments. In addition, 30 percent of modern conventional drugs are derived from a plant source and it is estimated that 30-40 percent of all medical doctors in France and Germany rely on herbal preparations as their primary medicines.1,2 During the last 10-20 years a renewal in the interest of scientific research and herbal medicine has yielded and explosion of scientific information available.
How are Naturopathic Doctors Trained in Botanical Medicine?
Naturopathic Doctors are professionally trained to know; the historical uses of plants as well as the modern pharmacological mechanisms and interactions. The educational process is over 4 years in Naturopathic Colleges and then complimented through continuing education courses post-graduation.
What about Quality? And Why is it Important to work with a Standardized Product?
When using a botanical medicine it is very important to use a high quality product. The best measure is to use a standardized extract (or guaranteed potency extract). This ensures that a standard amount of active ingredient is included in the remedy. Examples of this are: Vaccinium myrtillus with 40 mg of anthocyanosides; Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) 70 mg of silymarianum and Hypericum (St. John’s Wort) .3% hypericin. On analysis of herbal products it has been found that there is a great deal of variation in amount of actual active ingredients present.
Government departments have been established to promote quality control. Leading companies that produce high quality products allow third party independent assessments of their products and are able to provide the research associated.
Can I use my Medical Doctors Prescribed Medicine with Botanicals?
Botanicals can have interactions with medically prescribed drugs. One needs to check with their Naturopathic Doctor, Pharmacist, and/or Medical Doctor to ensure drug interactions are taken into consideration.
- WHO, 1985
- Interview: An interview with Prof. H. Wagner. Herbal Gram 17,16-17,1988