Benefits of Medicinal Plants
A study conducted in 2004 resulted in the discovery that at least 30% of all adults have tried herbal or alternative medicine. In recent years, that percentage has grown due to an increased awareness. The reason for this is more due to education than anything else, because more people know now of the part herbs have played in medicine through the years. Growing medicinal herbs has developed a niche in the gardening community due to its age old history.
Herbal medicines and remedies are the result of centuries of trial and error and, in more recent history, scientific experimentation. The greater majority of medicines have a foundation in herbal plants. An example is aspirin, which comes from the bark of the willow tree. It is one of the most common of all medicines, in the synthetic form you purchase over the counter.
Quinine is another drug derived from the cinchona tree. Of course, opium comes from the poppy flower. These two powerful drugs would never have existed without the plant they originated from. Although both have a bad reputation because of how they have been used, they both have legal medicinal uses.
St. John's wort has been used for centuries as an antidepressant, and many people take it religiously just for mental peace of mind. It has been tested in over 40 clinical trials and shown to help mild and moderate depression.
Ginkgo is the root of the extract EGb 761, which is used to improve awareness and judgment in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. This has been tested among people over 65 years old with Alzheimer's as well as dementia, and the results have been positive.
Valerian has been a treatment for persons with sleep disorders for centuries. Unlike many of the synthetic types of sleeping pills, valerian leaves no hangover the morning after.
Echinacea is one of the most commonly used herbal products. As with many herbal remedies, science does not totally agree with its benefits. Clinical studies performed by 14 separate entities on the effect of Echinacea on the common cold resulted in evidence that it decreased the chance of catching a cold by 58%. Echinacea also decreased the duration of the cold, when it was contracted, by 1.4 days.
Herb related medicines treat a bevy of conditions, but as with any treatment, the supervision of a professional is important. Check with your doctor of pharmacist before using any kind of drug. All herbs mentioned here may not be practical in a personal garden.
Growing medicinal herbs is a start to self treatment for some conditions, but be sure to research anything you intend to take internally or use topically.