There are many doctors in modern medicine that have questioned the reliability of herbal medications as a viable treatment for patient’s illnesses. Many Americans also ponder this question; wondering if botanical medications are the answer to their health problems, or if they are just another cultural fad? In a number of clinical trials herbal medications have been proven to be an effective solution in treating numerous ailments such as mild depression to increasing stamina (Botanical Treatment).
Thus, it can be stated that herbal medicines are a valid form of alternative medication, and can be useful in preventing some of the viruses, diseases, and sicknesses that afflict people everyday. Botanical medicine includes medical herbalism, a healing art that relies on the synergistic and therapeutic properties of plants, to treat symptoms and diseases while maintaining personal health (Monroe). Interest in alternative therapies has exploded among Americans in recent decades. According to Floyd Leaders, Jr. Ph. D.
, “since 1980, the need for low cost health care options and the increasing consumer-oriented health care movement has brought renewed interest in botanical and natural products” (Conference Highlights). Feeling that there is a need to stay abreast of this emerging information the public has asked for information regarding botanicals advantages and consequences. Researchers have therefore responded to this public curiosity with studies and reports about the efficiency and safety of these alternative herbal treatments.
Above all, consumers believe that with these reports they can make their own knowledgeable decisions about using such alternative therapies as phytomedicine (maintaining health by means of plants) in their future. Perhaps one on the major concerns with plants as medicine is that many consider botanicals a relatively new practice. This is an incorrect assumption, plants have been used since prehistoric times as medicinal remedies applied in various ways to provide relief from irritations as minor as a mosquito bite to situations as catastrophic as the plague.
The use of herbs for medicinal purposes has been developed over the centuries by personal experimentation, local custom, anecdote, and folk tradition. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 80% of the global population continues to rely on medicinal plant preparations to meet primary health care needs (Greenwald 61). In modern medicine, many drugs are derived from plants most of these medicines are used in ways that are relatively similar to their conventional botanical use.
Other drugs in modern medicine, however, are artificial and part of the reason for this is economic; plants rarely can be patented, so pharmaceutical companies will not gain the exclusive right to sell even after expensive research and marketing of the product (Monroe). Due to the return of botanicals as medicinal cures Dr. Leaders was quoted as saying “we’re basically going back to the future…going back and looking at these botanical products, but through very modern advanced glasses “(Conference Highlights).
So if by common conscience or just traditional practice, doctors and patients alike are rushing to botanical treatments for their medicinal remedies. Equally important is the question, why is there a sudden reemergence of thousand-year-old remedies in today’s medical communities? Within the fears and desires of 80 million aging baby boomers the answer to this inquiry is that many patients are eager to seize control of their medical destinies (Greenwald 61).
It is believed that one-third of Americans have tried some form of herbal remedy and that number is expected to grow sharply since many pharmaceutical companies are rushing feverishly into this field (Greenwald 62). In fact, the American public is consuming herbal products at an all time high. The reason for this prescription protest is that many patients are not as trusting currently as they have been in the past, since so many people feel that they have been wronged by the doctors who cannot cure their sicknesses.
Therefore, they begin the search for better and faster replacements to our conventional medical treatments; as a result alternative medicines are their solution to this dilemma (See Table 1). Gradually, as more Americans became more interested in medical herbalism, they pushed for governmental studies on botanicals. The Harvard Women’s Health Watch reports that in 1992, Congress responded to pressure from outside groups for an investigation of a wider range of potentially effective medical practices (Alternative Medicines).
Because of the widespread interest in the field of herbalism, it seemed natural that the National Institute of Health established the Office of Alternative Medicine to study the various benefits or consequences that botanicals have on individual health (Monroe). Dr. Sidney Bodardus of the Office of Alternative Medicines says: A lot of people feel comforted by taking something they regard a natural substance…of course, the substances in an herb are chemicals just as they are in medicine made by pharmaceutical companies. But it seems more gentle and safe, and people are reassured by that. (Greenwald 63)
Many Americans have a sensation of ease from using these natural products because they have a reassuring effect of them. Hence, there is varying scrutiny on the matter of whether botanicals should be used in treating patient’s diseases and aliments. Many feel that the questions should deal with not only with studies and investigations by government institutions, but they feel that they should be provided with answers. Holding these opinions in a similar way, patients and doctors both feel that there should be a solution to this problem, and that the answers should come from the government.
On the other hand, confirming very little scientifically, there is nothing proven in regards to either the adverse or beneficial health effects of most of the 1,500-plus herbal products stocked in America’s drug stores, grocery stores, and numerous other retail outlets that market these herbal formulations (Environmental Health). Many consumers mistakenly assume that because herbal measures are natural, they are safer, gentler, and less “medicinal” than conventional drugs. Blinding themselves from some of the adverse effects botanicals might possess, consumers are not usually aware of the consequences that go along with herbal medicine.
To date, there has been no legal requirement for the testing of herbal products either before or after marketing. Once marketed, the burden of proof is on the U. S. Food and Drug Administration to prove that herbal supplements are unsafe before it can be removed from shelves. Thus, it falls to the government to test these formulations and form guidelines in the botanical industry (Environmental Health). Botanicals might or might not be harmful products to the consumer, but on one will know the answer until the government begins to regulate the herbal market for side effects.
Regardless of their few downfalls, herbal medications are the solution that many American consumers are reaching out for in treating their numerous ailments. Providing many with a comfort level that is not known to most conventional medicines, botanicals appear to be the wave of the future for many sick or ailing people. Thus, herbal medications are a credible and legitimate form of alternative medication in today’s society. Accordingly, many people feel that they can be useful in preventing some of the viruses, diseases, and sicknesses that afflict people everyday. Bibliography : Works Cited “Alternative Medicines.
” Harvard Women’s Health Watch. June 1994: n. pag. Online. Ebsco. 10 Sept. 2001. “Botanical Treatment in Children. ” ClinicalTrials. gov. Online. Internet. 11 Sept. 2001. “Conference Highlights Botanical Medicine Issues. ” CAM Newsletter. (May 1996): n. pag. Online. Internet. 11 Sept. 2001. “Environmental Health Perspectives. ” Ehpnet1. niehs. nih. gov. Volume 107:12 (December 1999): n. pag. Online. Internet. 15 Oct. 2001. Greenwald, John. “Herbal Healing. ” Time Magazine. 23 Nov. 1998: 61-65. Monroe, Linda R. “Closer Look at Alternative Medicine. ” Miami Herald May 1993: SIRS, 10 Sept. 2001.