Indicated for minor ailments, herbal medicine has its origins in the mists of time, when man found a cure in nature. Today, even though very few herbal doctors consult, it is better to consult a specialist than to resort to self-medication.
The first of medicines
Phytotherapy is the oldest form of medicine. It is now practiced in many parts of the world.
In developed countries, the pharmaceutical industry has never ceased to study plants and their active ingredients in order to develop new medicines.
The chemical composition of many of them is modelled on that of the plants they replace or improve (40% of allopathic medicines contain ingredients derived from plants).
What can be treated with plants?
Plants can be used to treat minor ailments: digestive disorders, sleep disorders, skin disorders, benign joint problems, etc.
However, it is always advisable to always turn to professionals. Although herbal remedies are generally safe and have fewer side effects than allopathic remedies, a professional should be consulted before using herbal remedies in conjunction with allopathic treatment.
Beware, some plants can be deadly! Herbalists and pharmacists are the best advisers on the medicinal use of plants.
How does a session take place?
During the first consultation (it can last an hour), the herbalist tries to establish a complete assessment of the patient by questioning him/her on his/her current disorder, history, lifestyle, etc.
The effects of phytotherapy are progressive: medicinal plants, much less concentrated, have a much slower action than chemical drugs. On the other hand, they can be used over much longer periods of time.
Plants, in multiple forms
Depending on the part of the plant that is used, different techniques are favoured:
– the infusion (for the most fragile parts of the plant) consists in letting a certain quantity of the plant infuse for 10 to 15 minutes, before filtering and consuming.
– decoction: used when using the hard – woody – parts of the plant (root, bark, etc.), it consists of boiling them for 10 to 20 minutes, before filtering and consuming.
– maceration: this process consists in leaving the mixture, cold or hot, for about 12 hours before eating it.
The plants can also be used in powders (preparations made with crushed, pulverized and sieved plant parts), extracts, suspensions, tinctures, syrups, essential oils.
As some plants have a bad taste or are very bitter, they can be sweetened by using certain plants or honey (sugar can ferment).