Herb refers to any plant that is used for its therapeutic properties. Herbal medicines are the ones made from various plants and extracts from the plants. They are also referred to as phytomedicines or phytotherapy. Herbs have been used in traditional medicine for ages. Herbal medicine is very popular in Europe and in India. In India, the government has even set up a separate department called AYUSH under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Modern medicine also makes use of plant-derived compounds for manufacturing pharmaceutical drugs. But the essential difference between the two is that in modern medicine the biologically active compounds are isolated and standardized for use as medicine. On the other hand, herbal medicine believes that using components from a given source with minimum processing is more effective and even safer. Many studies conducted have found out that about 80% of the biologically active compounds derived from the plant that are used in modern medicine have a positive correlation between the traditional use of the plants in which they are found and their modern therapeutic use.
What are the benefits of herbal medicines?
Herbal medicine is gaining popularity and expanding throughout the globe in recent times due to its various benefits. These include:-
- Herbal medicine is able to produce a long-lasting curative effect in various chronic diseases.
- Herbal medicines are derived from various plants they are easily available.
- They are known to promote the natural way of healing. This means that herbal medicine focuses on reinforcing or re-establishing the various natural healing processes and promoting wellness.
- They have minimum side effects
Are herbal medicines having any side effects?
People commonly believe that as prepared from plants herbs don’t have any harmful effects. But this is not completely true. There are some herbs that don’t undergo any good-quality clinical trials that conventional drugs go through. Also, standards for purity while manufacturing or packaging the herbs are not clearly stated for some drugs.
Also, valuable documentation regarding the appropriate dosage of certain drugs is absent or unreliable. Certain herbs like ephedra and comfrey have potentially harmful effects on the human body. Some herbs can complicate already existing problems such as allergies, pregnancy, nursing or inflammation. There are some herbs that interact and interfere with the action of prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
It is also found that herbal medicines are more likely to cause a dangerous complication when they are combined with certain prescription medications such as:-
- Heart medications
- Blood thinners and anticoagulants
- Asthma medications
- Seizure medications
- Blood pressure medications
Hence it becomes necessary to inform one’s health care provider if one is already taking any herbal medicine.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 80% of the world’s population has been using herbal medicine for one health concern or the other. In wake of the growing demand for herbal medicine, many irresponsible manufacturers are making these medicines to make quick and easy money. The amount of active ingredient added varies from one manufacturer to the other and at times even from one batch to the next. Some herbal medicines are seen to contain contaminating agents such as pesticides above the permissible limits. Not only this, some manufacturers even add cortisone which is a potent anti-inflammatory steroid to increase the effectiveness of their herbal products.
Schwabe India which is already well known for making genuine and authentic homeopathic medicines has taken up a new venture to manufacture standardized herbal medicines. Strict quality control and safety measures are taken at all levels while manufacturing and packaging the various products by the company. Vital information is mentioned on each and every product. This includes:-
- Expiration date
- Lot/batch number which is a specific number to indicate when the product was manufactured.
- Manufacturing facility FDA registration
- Daily dosage recommendation- This is important as without a daily dose recommendation there is a risk of under or overdosing.
- Independent verification of the dosage by the laboratory
- Milligrams of each active component per dose – One needs to know the quantity of each ingredient in each dose.
- Side effects / precautions- Responsible companies mention warnings, side effects or potential interactions. It is as important as daily dosage and so one must always look for them the same way as one would with over the counter or prescription drugs.
Schwabe India has launched Dizester herbal. It is the herbal digestive tonic for the liver and digestive system. It is an effective appetizer and also helps to improve various digestive disorders such as heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, regurgitation of food, hyperacidity, abdominal cramps, bloating etc. It has various herbs that are well known for ages to improve digestion.
These include Kala jeera (Carum carvi), Sanay(Cassia angustifolia), Amaltas (Casia fistula), Jeera (Cuminum cyminum), Hing(Ferula asafoetida), Saunf(Foeniculum vulgare), Pudina (Mentha piperita), Moringa (Morings oleifera), Jaiphal (Myristica fragrans), Harad (Terminalia chebula), Ajwain (Trachyspermum ammi), and Sonth (Zingiber officinale).
This herbal tonic for digestion is prepared as syrup to ensure easy administration of the otherwise pungent herbs. Also, care is taken to prepare the homeopathic herbal tonic in a sugar-free medium. This ensures that this tonic can even be consumed by diabetics and other fitness freaks to solve their various digestion related worries.
Another promising product is B&T Olmuv which is herbal medicine for joint pain. It is the herbal pain relief oil that contains many proven medicinal herbs effective in treating joint pain. These include (Gaultheria fragrantissima), Guaiacum officinale, olibanum, arnica Montana, capsicum annum, menthe piperita, acacia Arabica, methyl salicylate, cinnamomum camphora and menthe viridis.
B&T Olmuv can effectively deal with all kinds of body aches be it joint pains, muscular pains, strains and sprains which can be caused by injury, overuse or overexertion of the affected parts.
The base of this herbal pain relief oil comprises turpentine oil, eucalyptus oil, sesame oil, flaxseed/ linseed oil and liquidum paraffinum. The various medicinal herbs and the oil medium together ensure that this enriching oil is non-allergic, readily absorbable and very beneficial in relieving the pain.