The History Behind Herbal Medicine

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Herbs have been helping and healing humans for centuries. Evidence shows, plants with medicinal properties were used by humans since prehistoric times. Therefore, it’s no wonder why herbal medicine is renowned globally today. It isn’t a matter of time when it comes to using herbal medicine because it was effective then, and it is effective now. 

In this piece, we are going to drive you through the history of herbal medicine. So, the next time you see the cave paintings with herbs in France, Indian sculptures, or Roman monuments, you will know they have a direct relationship with herbal medicine and depict the history behind it. 

The Beginning

Humankind was struggling to battle physical, mental, and emotional illness for a long time. Then came an era when humans realized that barks, seeds, fruit bodies, and other plants have some magical healing traits and can improve life. That's when herbal medicine started conceiving from nature and getting better day by day. 

Our ancestors inherited an animalistic culture. They believed everything has a living spirit within, and so do the plants. This belief is getting stronger with coming generations. Today, people worldwide save plants, worship them, use them for sacred purposes, and make life-saving drugs.

All Irish to Africans battled hard to preserve the herbal history, and their effort hasn't gone in vain. Herbal medicine has evolved incredibly with time. From ancient discoveries to homegrown herbal remedies, people see herbal medicine as a broad concept. Surprisingly, today humans are willing to know where to buy kratom in canada, which means they accept herbal medicine with open arms. We know what modern herbal medicine is, yet the history behind it is unexplored. Let’s dig deeper into it. 

The Oldest Evidence of Medicinal Drug Preparation Belongs to India:

In the Nagpur city of India, researchers have found a Sumerian clay slab dating back 5,000 years which is also the oldest evidence of medicinal plants used to make drugs from it. It comprises 12 recipes for making medicinal drugs from 250 plants, some of which are alkaloids like henbane, mandrake, and poppy. 

Indian herbal medicine evolved into three phases - Prehistoric, Vedic, and Ayurvedic. Ayurveda, introduced in 1,500 BC in India, is widely used to cure critical ill conditions. The Ayurveda (the science of life) comprises eight branches with a primary aim to maintain health and not cure diseases. 

These eight branches are internal medicine, disease of the head, surgery, toxicology, demonic diseases, pediatrics, rejuvenation, and aphrodisiacs. Every recipe in Ayurveda revolves around using plants as a medicinal source to heal physical or mental conditions. Like Ayurveda, in the Vedas, one of the holiest Indian books, there's a suggestion to use spices like nutmeg, pepper, and clove as home herbal remedies.

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China's Contribution to Herbal Medicine:

Traditional Chinese Medicine is 2,000 to 3,000 years old, with a concept of continuously battling the opposites (Yin & Yang) at its base. This belief further stretches to convince the world that humans might have sound health if the opposing forces are balanced, if not otherwise. TCM promotes the use of herbs as medicine by majorly two ways:

  • Intaking the herbal medication, and, 
  • Burning herbs near the skin

One of the oldest pieces of Chinese literature written by Emperor Shen Nung circa 2500 BC entitled “Pen TS'ao” reveals 365 drugs made from the dried parts of plants. A few plants mentioned are Cinnamon Bark, Camphor, Ephedra, Podophyllum, Yellow Gentian, Ginseng, Jimson Weed, Rhei rhizoma, and Theae folium. 

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Greece & Rome Also Have a Herbal Medicine History:

Not only Indians and Chinese but also Greeks and Romans are a significant part of herbal medicine history. Both Greeks and Romans gave the theory of four fluids: blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm, each correlating to a natural element: air, earth, fire, and water. In prehistoric times, the Greco-Roman civilization only had herbs-based medicine. Around 65 A.D., a Greek physician named Pedanius Dioscorides wrote “De Materia Medica” with the Roman army. The book suggested the use of several herbs as medicines and is fruitful even today. 

A Roman physician named Galen between 131-200 AD compiled the first list “De succedaneous” of parallel drugs with identical yet interchangeable actions. He also introduced several new plant drugs in his therapeutic index that Pedanius Dioscorides had not defined. Namely, "Uvae Ursi folium," was used as a disinfectant and a mild diuretic found effective even today. 

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Herbal medicine is not only about making capsules from plants and healing your body without any side effects. It is a lot more of inheriting ancestors’ legacy by keeping their inventions, findings, and efforts safe for us and the upcoming generations. 

With decades passing by, fresh discoveries have been made in relevance to the medicinal qualities of plants. Generation after generation, these discoveries are helping humans, and a new fashion of herbal medicine is getting created ever since. 

It’s not like you have to buy natural medicines on the market compulsorily. You can start planting herbs in your house garden to begin your herbal medicine journey. However, be precautious about your herbal medicine dosages. It’s because taking too many herbal medicines could elevate the negative impacts of other medications by harmfully interacting with them.