Herb Dictionary Online
The herb dictionary online is just that..a resource for popular and rare herbs and how they are utilized. Herbs and plants have been utlized for centuries to treat aliments. At that time, most of the problems were never diagnosed. "Fever" and "augue" and "women's complaints" covered just about everything so it was common to try and treat the symptoms without knowing really what was the underlying problem.
One of the earliest used herbal remedies was willow bark which was usually brewed into a bitter tea. It was recognized as treating pain and fever, but noone knew why. At the turn of the 20th century, scientists in Europe discovered that willow bark contained salicytic acid. This was quickly extracted and formed into one of the first non-opiod pain killers..aspirin. (Morphine dates from around the mid 1800's)
Through the 1980's, up to 50% of all pharmaceuticals on the market were derived from plant sources. Synthetic development of these compounds were just becoming into being. At that point the drug digoxin was still coming from foxglove leaves. Those same foxgloves are a stable today in many gardens. As of 2001, there were still 122 medicines on the market that were from plant sources.
Although we know that the ancient Sumarians and Egyptians used herbs extensively, the "Golden Age" of herbs arose after the Black Plague decimated Europe from 1348 to 1350. At that point up to 60% of Europes population was killed and there was little to treat this highly infectious disease. For the next two centuries, herbs were studied and written about with the earliest books on the subject showing up in the 1500's.
Experiments with chemicals such as sulfer, copper and mercury in an effort to treat syphilis lead to the term "chemo-therapy" and medicine moved closer and closer to using chemical formulations over herbal preparations. Gradually through the 20th century, industrialized countries used more chemically formulated drugs, while non-industrialized countries continued to use herbs. Why is this? Because in these countries (African continent, India, Far east) pharmaceutical drugs are very expensive. The average family in some of these countries lives on $2-5 per day which puts prescriptions out of reach. It is very easy however, to grow herbs from seed for low cost.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides to the increased use of herbals is the lack of clincal trials. Most of the research that has been done comes from India or Germany where herbs are used extensively. So why is this? In the US, 75% of all medical research continues to be funded by pharmaceutical companies and is directed towards their products. I myself have tried to get one very large company interested in the use of magnesium in migraine and they rebuffed the proposal. Too cheap of an answer and they could not make any money on it. The remaining research in the US is funded by the US government through the NIH and a small percentage from independant research companies.
Bookmark this herb dictionary online as it will be updated and changed regularly.