The use of plants and herbs in medicine is the most ancient form of health care known to humankind. Extensive scientific documentation now exists concerning their use for health conditions including menstrual and menopausal syndromes, digestive disorders, heart and lung disease, neurologic problems, HIV and even cancer.
Approximately 25% of all prescription drugs are made from trees, shrubs, or herbs. Some are made from plant extracts while others are synthesized to mimic a natural plant compound. However, 'herbal medicine' uses plants in their natural form (containing all the naturally occurring chemicals that have biological activity). Their effects are slower and less dramatic than purified drugs but they have fewer side effects and are generally safer.
Caution should always be exercised when selecting herbs for treatment as their quality can vary and some imported herbs are contaminated with toxic substances. Therefore, it is important to consult with experienced and knowledgeable professionals when seeking herbal remedies for medical problems.