Treating illnesses with the help of medicinal plants is one of the oldest achievements of humanity. It can even be said that until the end of the 19th century, phytotherapy was the most important medicine teaching. In the 16th century, Paracelsus began to systematically summarize the medicinal herbs that are native to us and to develop methods for extracting the desired active ingredients from the plants. He made phytotherapy an empirical science, which followed more and more scientific principles.
Nature and chemistry
Many of the drugs that are chemically produced today are originally from herbal medicine. For example, aspirin contains an active ingredient from the bark of the willow tree, strong pain relieving substances such as the opiates were obtained from the latex of the poppy and only recently was found in the snowdrop the drug galantamine, which is now used in Alzheimer's disease.
In phytotherapy plants are used as fresh plants, as extracts or in the form of teas, capsules, drops and ointments. In general, herbal supplements have a fairly broad spectrum of action - and which is particularly beneficial - far fewer side effects than synthetic drugs.
Phytopharmaceuticals today are subject to the same stringent requirements as chemically produced drugs. As far as quality, efficacy and safety are concerned, they must comply with the same legal requirements. In addition, only active substances whose use is greater than the risk may be prescribed. In this regard, herbal medicines are even mostly superior to synthetic medicines.
The starting material should be controlled crops, which can be used to standardize the active ingredient content, so that each tablet or capsule always contains the same dose.
When do phytopharmaceuticals come into use?
Her main area of application is herbal medicines for disorders such as nervous restlessness, falling asleep, colds, stomach problems and mild cardiovascular disorders. They already cover a large part of the most common complaints that patients come to the doctor or pharmacist. But also in other areas such as allergies, menopausal problems, depressive moods or to strengthen the immune system, herbal medicines are on the rise.
Despite the good tolerability of the phytopharmaceuticals, they should not be taken over a longer period of time without first having informed a specialist. Above all, combinations of various medicinal herbs and also with conventional synthetic medicines are not always safe. A consultation with the pharmacist makes sense in any case and gives additional security to do the right thing for his health. (PNM)