What is botanical medicine?
Botanical medicine (or herbal medicine) is the use of plant material in various forms therapeutically. Botanicals have a long history in medicine and have been the inspiration behind a multitude of pharmaceutical medications as well. An important point to recognize is that by working with a whole herb is that our knowledge is still limited in the understanding of the phytochemistry and pharmacology of every constituent present in a plant. This means that while we often can isolate a single compound and track that effect on the body we don’t always understand the roles that the other compounds play together (termed as synergy). Synergy allows all of the constituents in a plant to work as nature intended and often without many of the negative side effects compared to their pharmaceutical counterparts. Most botanical medicines work gently and in line with the needs of the body which makes them a very effective form of medicine for most ailments and conditions.
Benefits of Botanical Medicine
- Many herbs are well studied making them supported by modern research
- Often have less reported side effects compared to similar pharmaceutical medications
- Can be used in a wide variety of preparations (e.g. teas, tinctures, salves, and inhalations) allowing them to be individualized to a specific therapy
- Botanical medicines can often be combined with or used to taper off of pharmaceutical prescriptions with the guidance of a naturopathic doctor
- They have more actions and indications than can be listed here!