Herbal medicine | Cancer Research UK

Posted: October 29, 2015 at 11:46 am

Herbal medicine uses plants, or mixtures of plant extracts, to treat illness and promote health. It aims to restore your body's ability to protect, regulate and heal itself. It is a whole body approach, so looks at your physical, mental and emotional well being. It is sometimes called phytomedicine, phytotherapy or botanical medicine.

The two most common types of herbal medicine used in the UK are Western herbal medicine and Chinese herbal medicine. Some herbalists practice less common types of herbal medicine such as Tibetan or Ayurvedic medicine (Indian).

Many modern drugs are made from plants. But herbalists dont extract plant substances in the way the drug industry does. Herbalists believe that the remedy works due to the delicate chemical balance of the whole plant, or mixtures of plants, not one particular active ingredient.

Western herbal medicine focuses on the whole person rather than their illness. So the herbalist looks at your personal health history, family history, diet and lifestyle. Herbalists use remedies made from whole plants, or plant parts, to help your body heal itself or reduce the side effects of medical treatments. Western herbal therapies are usually made from herbs that grow in Europe and North America but also use herbs from China and India.

Chinese herbal medicine is part of a whole system of medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which includes

TCM aims to restore the balance of your Qi (pronounced chee). TCM practitioners believe that Qi is the flow of energy in your body, and is essential for good health. Chinese herbalists use plants according to their taste and how they affect a particular part of the body or an energy channel in the body. They may use a mixture of plants and other substances.

The Chinese remedy reference book used by TCM practitioners contains hundreds of medicinal substances. Most of the substances are plants but there are also some minerals and animal products. Practitioners may use different parts of plants such as the leaves, roots, stems, flowers or seeds. Usually, herbs are combined and you take them as teas, capsules, tinctures, or powders.

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Herbal medicine | Cancer Research UK

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