What are Herbal Medications?

Vanessa Harvey

Herbal medications are alternative treatments health problems and conditions using various parts of many types of all-natural medicinal plants known as herbs. A medication might be prepared with just one specific herb known to cure or help control a health problem, or it might contain a blend or mixture of different herbs known to complement one another when combined in certain proportions. Infusions, decoctions, tablets, capsules, tinctures and extracts are the most popular forms of herbal medications. Much of the Earth's plant life, including weeds, have medicinal properties and can be used to treat and cure a variety of diseases and cancers, infection, internal and external injuries and minor health problems. The medicinal properties of plants, depending on the type, can be found in their leaves, flowers, roots, fruit or seeds.

Freshly ground cloves can be used to help eliminate parasites.
Freshly ground cloves can be used to help eliminate parasites.

When a plant's parts with medicinal properties are ingested in any of the aforementioned forms for the express purpose of treating a health problem or condition, the preparations can be referred to as herbal medications. Natural foods companies commercially manufacture natural medicine to be sold as safer and more healthy alternatives to chemical medicines. These products are considered herbal medications if they contain any ingredient that is considered an herb. Practitioners of herbalism, however, might not consider these products herbal medications because they often contain binding agents and harmful chemicals used as preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. Individuals can make their own herbal medications at home simply by preparing an infusion, commonly known as a tea; a decoction; a tincture; an extract; syrup; or a tablet or by filling capsules from the herb or herbs chosen to treat the health condition.

Teas are a popular way to administer herbal medications.
Teas are a popular way to administer herbal medications.

Common examples of simple herbal medications include a cup of chamomile tea to treat insomnia or to settle an upset stomach, a decoction of burdock root for relief from arthritis and an infusion of corn silk to clear up a chronic bladder infection. More complex herbal medications involve the use of more than one plant or part of a plant with medicinal properties. For example, black walnut tincture made from fresh green walnut hulls taken along with freshly ground cloves is an alternative treatment for combating parasites that cause numerous types of health problems.

Burdock root is a herbal medication used to treat arthritis.
Burdock root is a herbal medication used to treat arthritis.

Most herbal medicines can interact with chemical prescription medications in a positive or negative way. Herbal medicines were the world's first medicines and still are used as the only source of medicine by many people living in remote areas far away from modern doctors and hospitals. Numerous people in industrialized nations also rely almost exclusively on these all-natural and effective medicines.

Some herbal medications can be administered in the form of a tablet.
Some herbal medications can be administered in the form of a tablet.
Some herbal medications may be used to treat anxiety or insomnia.
Some herbal medications may be used to treat anxiety or insomnia.
Because herbs are not regulated, the strength and preparation of herbal remedies are not standardized.
Because herbs are not regulated, the strength and preparation of herbal remedies are not standardized.
Many herbal medications interact with prescription medications.
Many herbal medications interact with prescription medications.

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