The best way to know if something is effective or not is based on long-term experience. In the last century many conventional drugs have gone on the market as the ultimate answer to one disease or another, and then disappeared off the shelves due to various serious side effects.
In contrast, natural medicine has survived the test of time through the generations and still continues to be the medicine that 50 percent of the world uses, despite the intensive promotion of conventional medicines.
History of Natural Medicine
Natural Medicine sometimes called “folk medicine.” The name is highly misleading. It makes it sound like something that is practiced by laymen that don’t know better. The more accurate name is Traditional Medicine as this field of medicine has the oldest and most established traditions in the world. After all, we are talking about the oldest medical system in the world.
Natural medicine had existed since the beginning of the documented human history. Archaeological findings indicating that people used plants as medicines in the most ancient periods of time.
Up to these days, there are medical methods that are based on herbs, like Chinese medicine and the Indian Ayurveda.
The interesting thing about these methods is that all of them use the same herbs for the same problems. And that’s despite the fact that there was no connection between the nations until recently.
This speaks volumes about the efficiency of the herbs in question.
East Versus West
The oldest methods of traditional medicine mainly use combinations of herbs.
In the West, on the other hand, if traditional medicine is being used, it usually comes in the form of one central herb, or a combination of two herbs tops.
80% of the world’s population are still using herbal medicine up to this day, even if in some cases they are unaware of the fact. Stems, roots, leaves, bark and petals are used for creating medical teas, ointments, and healing extracts.
Actually, the herbs are the basis of modern pharmaceuticals. Many of the current medicines come from herbs, at least in part. For example, morphine is produced from poppy and aspirin is extracted from willow bark. Many anticancer drugs are specifically derived from plants, such as parsley, rosemary and more.
Before the Common Era
Historical records show that the ancient Egyptians used natural medicines in 1500 BC, for example, juniper and garlic.
At that time, a medical system was developed in Egypt and ancient Babylon. This system was the ancestor of our current medical practice, which consists of diagnosis, prognosis, and medical examination.
The First Millennium
In the ninth century, a usage of various herbs was prevalent in England and other parts of Europe. There are historical records of various uses from all across of Europe.
Herbal medicine is evident in Southeast Asia, as well as in various Indian cultures. In fact, they’ve been using these methods for over 6,000 years now.
In ancient tribal cultures, across Europe, Asia and Africa people were chewing herbs to relieve abdominal pain and various aches.
There is an extensive documentation about the usage of herbs in ancient Rome and Greece.
The Hippocratic Oath that is still used till this day comes from ancient Greece in the fifth century BC.
In ancient Africa, they used herbs to purify the body and keep away the evil spirits. They believed that evil spirits cause all diseases.
The Second Millennium
In the 1400s, men doctors took the place of women. In the past, the “doctors” were the “Wise Women”, practicing traditional medicine.
Those women were accused of being witches and burned at the stake. As a result, The medical field started to change. First, with the wide-spreading of men graduating medical schools. it started in Italy, and later spread throughout all of Europe.
In the 19th century, developments in the field of chemistry allowed the traditional medicine to take it’s next step.
At that time began mass production of medications. Those medications were composed of active ingredients extracted from herbs.
The word “drug” was coined back then, derived from the French word “drogue”, meaning plant.
These days, thanks to the development in the field of chemistry, the traditional medicine is even more efficient and focused. It is based on serious research and active, concentrated substances.
Often, the natural medicine is as effective as chemical drugs – and free of adverse side effects.
Dealing with traditional medicine there is one important thing to remember:
It’s still a medicine and hence should be treated with respect and attention to the possibility of overdoing it.
You need to keep this in mind especially when working with herbs that are also used to spice food.
Although a pinch of rosemary or a clove of garlic may do wonders to your dish, when used for therapeutic purposes the dosages has to be monitored. (Most of the time the efficiency of the therapy depends on the methods of preparation and usage.)
An overdose of natural medicine is not as dangerous as of chemical one. But it is important to remember that the base of medicine is balance.
Any kind of overdose disrupts the balance.
Professional Naturopaths go through extensive training, not falling short of the conventional doctor. This profession takes learning various medical sciences, medical chemistry, pharmaceuticals, botany, nutrition and more. They’re also conducting professional scientific research.
Why is it Shun?
Some people have the wrong impression that traditional medicine is not “professional” or “scientific”. They think it’s a complementary to the conventional western medicine. (Even the name “conventional” suggesting this.)
But looking at the global picture, you see It’s not true.
Based on the UN statistics, only 1 of every 5 people in the world uses conventional (chemical) drugs. The rest are treating themselves with natural medicine. Or sometimes (in a much smaller percentage), with a combination of both.
The negative prejudice against the natural medicine comes mostly from active campaigning of the conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical companies. This happens because they feel threatened by the simple fact that herbal medicine is not profitable at all. You can’t make a fortune on something you can easily grow in your garden.
It is also a distant relic from the witch hunts; the “witches” used herbs.
Another reason for the herbal medicine being so low-profile is the fact that it’s very easy and simple to use.
To relieve pregnancy morning sickness it’s really easy to make a ginger brew or wheat grass juice.
For a prescription, you have to go through the process of making an appointment with the doctor. Then you have to wait your turn. Finally, you get the prescription. Going the pharmacy, waiting in line again, and finally receiving the long-awaited cure.
The prevalent term “folk medicine” doesn’t create a respectful impression, unlike the shiny diploma of a doctor that took seven years to achieve.
But… if we’d put our prejudices aside, perhaps this field of medicine has much more to offer than we think?
What do you think?