Herbal therapy is the use of an herb or any part of a plant for culinary or medicinal purposes. Herbal therapies are also sometimes referred to as “botanicals,” “nutraceuticals,” or “phytomedicines.” Dietary supplements are considered a part of herbal therapy.
Until the 1950’s, the United States federal government regulated herbs as drugs. For example, in 1938, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which required all drugs, including herbs, to be proven safe before they could be sold. In 1962, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was amended by the Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments, which required manufacturers to also prove to the FDA the effectiveness of drugs and herbs before they could be marketed.
Parts of herbs used in herbal therapies include flowers, fruits, seeds, stems, wood, bark, roots, and rhizomes. Herbal remedies are dispensed as brews and powders and can be used in cooking or making drinks. Herbalists, in some cultures referred to as shamans, or traditional healers, also make ointments and poultices out of herbs.
Herbal therapy has been the core of most systems of medicine from the beginning of civilization, and herbs are quickly becoming one of the most commonly used alternative therapies. Some commonly used herbs with therapeutic value are:
- Echinacea – immune stimulant and anti-infection agent
- Ginger – antinauseant and antispasmodic
- Ginseng Root – increased stamina and decreased fatigue
- Kava Kava – calming effect
- St. John’s Wort – anxiolytic and antidepressant
Much more in depth information on herbs and herbal therapies can be found here:
Source: Holistic and Complementary Therapies
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils (extracts or essences) from flowers, herbs, and trees to promote health and well-being. In the past decade, most people have turned to natural alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, to treat stress and relieve disease symptoms.
Essential oils can be used in a variety of therapeutic ways. In addition, many essential oils are potent antibiotic agents. Aromatherapy can also be used to promote sleep, alleviate anxiety or pain, and improve mood. Although the psychological benefits of aromatherapy have been shown, the physiological benefits of essential oils, specifically their antibacterial effects, are still debatable.
Two classical essential oils are lavender and peppermint. Lavender is used to reduce stress and depression and promote relaxation; peppermint is used to treat headaches, digestive disorders, and muscle aches.
Source: Holistic and Complementary Tharapies