You may not think you are familiar with herbs as medicine but it is most likely that you take some form of it every day, have benefited from botanical discoveries in a hospital setting, make sure to pack them for a holiday or possibly nonchalantly swallow what was once essentially a plant at the first sign of a headache.
When you dunk and strain your teabag in the morning you are leaving behind a symphony of botanical ingredients including antioxidant polyphenols which protect your heart, but what you are really brewing it for is the caffeine. A central nervous system stimulant included on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Essential Medicines List (the most effective and safe medicines needed in health system). Used in conventional medicine for breathing disorders in infants amongst other things.
Should you end up at the dentist and need a local anaesthetic or perhaps a spinal block in hospital, one on the most likely anaesthetics you will receive is lidocaine. Lidocaine is a synthetic development of the original local anaesthetic cocaine, from the Coca leaves. Lidocaine is also on the WHO Essential Medicines List.
If you are ever in need of powerful pain relief, morphine or codeine will likely be given or you may have the weaker option, co-codamol in your medicine cabinet at home. Morphine is isolated from the opium poppy and also appears on the WHO Essential Medicines List. Alternatively, you may reach for aspirin instead, also found on the Essential Medicines List. Around 40,000 tonnes are estimated to be consumed each year and its origins are to be found in the willow tree.
During an eye examinition the opthamologist may need to dilate your pupils with atropine eye drops. Atropine is an alkaloid from Atropa belladona (bellandona means beautiful woman and comes from the time woman used this plant to dilate their pupils to make them appear more attractive). It also belongs on the WHO List of Essential Medicines.
There are many more essential medicines including antimalarial drugs, chemotherapy, diabetes, antiparasitic, antiasthmatic drugs. The list is extensive and as importantly, plants continue to be a vital source for new discoveries.
It is thanks to dedicated minds and scientific developments that we have been able to isolate and quantify these medicines but let us not become so aloof or arrogant as to forget that their very discovery belongs in the fields around us, and without which we would be without some of the most vital medicines in our health care system today.
I work with herbs in their whole form and see the healing effects of them daily.
Should you still doubt the power and efficacy of herbs, may I respectfully suggest experimenting with Senna? A very powerful and effective laxative, just the recommended amount will do…