PHYTOTHERAPY- Plant Power
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Herbs have been used throughout history to influence illness, across all cultures. No matter how remote or apparently simple the culture, e.g., Amazonian indigenous tribes, it will have a battery of plants which it can press into service, to effectively attack a range of illnesses and infections. It has also been shown that many higher animals, most notably primates, also utilise a range of plant material for purposes such as insect repellence as well as maintenance of health. ‘Herbal Medicine’ applies to the use of plants to treat illness. As a term, it dates back to the 17th century with exponents such as Culpepper. There was no doubting its effectiveness as a whole, but its development was largely anecdotal and empirical in nature. The last fifty years in particular has seen a massive increase in the development of techniques, which have given much greater insight into how the body systems function. This development has given rise to increased credibility for Herbal Medicine, which has moved from the empirical and anecdotal, to a state where, with the modern understanding of human physiology, it can be explained how and why these herbs work. Phytotherapy therefore, is the appliance of modern science to Herbal Medicine- to be able to say not just, ‘this herb works for this complaint’; rather,’ this herb works because its particular active ingredient has a particular effect’.