The practice of herbal medicine dates back to the
very earliest periods of known human history. There is evidence
of herbs having been used in the treatment of diseases and for
revitalizing body systems in almost all ancient
civilizations-the Indian, the Egyptian, the Chinese and even the
Greek and Roman civilizations. Plants were the mainstay of
medicine and credited with mystical and almost supernatural
powers of healing. So much so that in Britain herbs became a
focus of superstition, reaching their peak of importance in the
Middle Ages when every village had its witch and every witch her
herbs and potions. Herbs were also used to counteract the
witches' powers. Garlic, hyssop and wormwood all combated
witchcraft and evil spirits.
Herbs play a significant role, especially in
modem times, when the damaging effects of food processing and
over-medication have assumed alarming proportions. They are now
being increasingly used in cosmetics, foods and teas, as well as
alternative medicines. The growing interest in herbs is a part
of the movement towards change in life-styles. This movement is
based on the belief that the plants have a vast potential for
their use as a curative medicine.
Herbs are used in many different ways. However,
the ultimate objective of their use is that they should interact
directly with our body chemistry. They may be used in various
forms like food, medicine, cosmetics, or fragrance, but in all
cases, their active constituents must be absorbed into the body
for deriving the required benefits. Once they are absorbed in
the bloodstream, they circulate to influence our whole system.
The skill of the herbalist is to use this effect to balance and
strengthen the body's own healing mechanism instead of
suppressing or disturbing it, as many modern drugs tend to do.
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