Spokane Medical Research

How much do you know about herbal medicine?

Filed under: Alternative Medicine,medicine — Rudolph @

If you’re like most doctors you could put it on a postage stamp. But like the computer herbal medicine is here to stay. Last year U.S. sales of herbal medicines reached $1.5 billion. Moreover sales are growing at 15% a year with one in 10 people using some form of “natural medication.” But what is fact and what is fiction about herbal medicine? And how dangerous are some herbs? To find out Dr. Ken Walker interviewed Dr. R. Frank Chandler director and professor of pharmacy phytochemistry and herbal remedies College of Pharmacy Dalhousie University Halifax. Dr. Ken Walker : Dr. Chandler why are more people becoming interested in herbal medicines? Dr. Frank Chandler : There are several factors. Many people have lost faith in conventional medicines or hope for a cure when traditional therapies fail. And many believe that herbal medicines are not dangerous because they’re “natural.” There’s also a fear of the more potent drugs on the market. KW : Are people fooling themselves that the word “natural” implies that herbal medicines contain some kind of magic ingredient not present in ethical pharmaceutical products? FC : There’s some belief in the herbal system that may not be well-founded. But if you look at today’s prescription medication about 25% of these drugs are either taken from plants or a plant substance that’s been modified. We wouldn’t have steroids without a couple of very lowly plants. Most of the herbal medicines have been derived through thousands of years and from different ethnic groups around the world. KW : What about the pharmacological activity of herbal medicines? FC : First of all the body can’t tell whether or not a medicine is “natural.” Pharmacological characteristics are based not on where medications are found in nature but on the activity of individual molecules. (more…)

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