The Traditional Medicine and Modern Medicine from Natural

The Traditional Medicine and Modern Medicine from Natural
12 min read
01 November 2022

The Traditional Medicine and Modern Medicine from Natural 

Traditional and chemical medicine
9 of the World’s Most Popular Herbal Medicines

For centuries, cultures around the world have relied on traditional herbal medicine to meet their healthcare needs.
Despite medical and technological advancements of the modern era, the global demand for herbal remedies is on the rise. In fact, it’s estimated that this industry grosses about $60 billion annually (1Trusted Source).
Some natural remedies may be more affordable and accessible than conventional medicines, and many people prefer using them because they align with their personal health ideologies (1Trusted Source).
All the same, you may wonder whether herbal options are effective.
Here are 9 of the world’s most popular herbal medicines, including their main benefits, uses, and relevant safety information.

1. Echinacea

Echinacea, or coneflower, is a flowering plant and popular herbal remedy.
Originally from North America, it has long been used in Native American practices to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, burns, toothaches, sore throat, and upset stomach (2Trusted Source).
Most parts of the plant, including the leaves, petals, and roots, can be used medicinally — though many people believe the roots have the strongest effect.
Echinacea is usually taken as a tea or supplement but can also be applied topically.
Today, it’s primarily used to treat or prevent the common cold, though the science behind this isn’t particularly strong.
One review in over 4,000 people found a potential 10–20% reduced risk of colds from taking echinacea, but there’s little to no evidence that it treats the cold after you have caught it (3Trusted Source).
Though insufficient data exists to evaluate the long-term effects of this herb, short-term use is generally considered safe. That said, side effects like nausea, stomach pain, and skin rash have occasionally been reported (4Trusted Source).
You can find echinacea in most supermarkets and health food stores, though you can also buy it online.

2. Ginseng

Ginseng is a medicinal plant whose roots are usually steeped to make a tea or dried to make a powder.
It’s frequently utilized in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation and boost immunity, brain function, and energy levels.
Several varieties exist, but the two most popular are the Asian and American types — Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius, respectively. American ginseng is thought to cultivate relaxation, while Asian ginseng is considered more stimulating (5Trusted Source).
Although ginseng has been used for centuries, modern research supporting its efficacy is lacking.
Several test-tube and animal studies suggest that its unique compounds, called ginsenosides, boast neuroprotective, anticancer, antidiabetes, and immune-supporting properties. Nonetheless, human research is needed (6Trusted Source).
Short-term use is considered relatively safe, but ginseng’s long-term safety remains unclear. Potential side effects include headaches, poor sleep, and digestive issues (7Trusted Source).
Ginseng is available at most health food stores, as well as online.

3. Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba, also known simply as ginkgo, is an herbal medicine derived from the maidenhair tree (8Trusted Source).
Native to China, ginkgo has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and remains a top-selling herbal supplement today. It contains a variety of potent antioxidants that are thought to provide several benefits (8Trusted Source).
The seeds and leaves are tradiionally used to make teas and tinctures, but most modern applications use leaf extract.
Some people also enjoy eating the raw fruit and toasted seeds. However, the seeds are mildlytoxic and should only be eaten in small quantities, if at all.Ginkgo is said to treat a wide range of ailments, including heart disease, dementia, mental difficulties, and sexual dysfunction. Yet, studies have not proven it effective for any of these conditions (9Trusted Source).
Although it’s well tolerated by most people, possible side effects include headache, heart palpitations, digestive issues, skin reactions, and an increased risk of bleeding (9Trusted Source).
You can shop for ginkgo online or at supplement shops


4. Elderberry

Elderberry is an ancient herbal medicine typically made from the cooked fruit of the Sambucus nigra plant. It has long been used to relieve headaches, nerve pain, toothaches, colds, viral infections, and constipation (10).
Today, it’s primarily marketed as a treatment for symptoms associated with the flu and common cold.
Elderberry is available as a syrup or lozenge, although there’s no standard dosage. Some people prefer to make their own syrup or tea by cooking elderberries with other ingredients, such as honey and ginger.
Test-tube studies demonstrate that its plant compounds have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties, but human research is lacking (11Trusted Source).
While a few small human studies indicate that elderberry shortens the duration of flu infections, larger studies are needed to determine if it’s any more effective than conventional antiviral therapies (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
Short-term use is considered safe, but the unripe or raw fruit is toxic and may cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (15Trusted Source).
Keep an eye out for this herbal remedy when you’re next in a health shop, or buy it online.

5. St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort (SJW) is an herbal medicine derived from the flowering plant Hypericum perforatum. Its small, yellow flowers are commonly used to make teas, capsules, or extracts (16Trusted Source).
Its use can be traced back to ancient Greece, and SJW is still frequently prescribed by medical professionals in parts of Europe (16Trusted Source).
Historically, it was utilized to aid wound healing and alleviate insomnia, depression, and various kidney and lung diseases. Today, it’s largely prescribed to treat mild to moderate depression.
Many studies note that short-term use of SJW is as effective as some conventional antidepressants. However, there’s limited data on long-term safety or effectiveness for those with severe depression or suicidal thoughts (17Trusted Source).SJW has relatively few side effects but may cause allergic reactions, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth, and increased light sensitivity (16Trusted Source).
It also interferes with numerous medications, including antidepressants, birth control, blood thinners, certain pain medications, and some types of cancer treatments (16Trusted Source).
Particular drug interactions could be fatal, so if you take any prescription medications, consult your healthcare provider prior to using SJW.
If you decide to try it out, SJW is available online and in numerous stores.


6. Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an herb that belongs to the ginger family (18Trusted Source).
Used for thousands of years in cooking and medicine alike, it has recently garnered attention for its potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is the major active compound in turmeric. It may treat a host of conditions, including chronic inflammation, pain, metabolic syndrome, and anxiety (18Trusted Source).
In particular, multiple studies reveal that supplemental doses of curcumin are as effective for alleviating arthritis pain as some common anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (18Trusted Source).
Both turmeric and curcumin supplements are widely considered safe, but very high doses may lead to diarrhea, headache, or skin irritation.
You can also use fresh or dried turmeric in dishes like curries, although the amount you typically eat in food isn’t likely to have a significant medicinal effect.
Instead, consider purchasing supplements online.

7. Ginger

Ginger is a commonplace ingredient and herbal medicine. You can eat it fresh or dried, though its main medicinal forms are as a tea or capsule.
Much like turmeric, ginger is a rhizome, or stem that grows underground. It contains a variety of beneficial compounds and has long been used in traditional and folk practices to treat colds, nausea, migraines, and high blood pressure (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Its best-established modern use is for relieving nausea associated with pregnancy, chemotherapy, and medical operations (19Trusted Source).
Furthermore, test-tube and animal research reveals potential benefits for treating and preventing illnesses like heart disease and cancer, although the evidence is mixed (19Trusted Source).
Some small human studies propose that this root may reduce your risk of blood clot formation, although it hasn’t been proven any more effective than conventional therapies (19Trusted Source).Ginger is very well tolerated. Negative side effects are rare, but large doses may cause a mild case of heartburn or diarrhea (20Trusted Source).
You can find ginger supplements at your local supermarket and online.

8. Valerian

Sometimes referred to as “nature’s Valium,” valerian is a flowering plant whose roots are thought to induce tranquility and a sense of calm.
Valerian root may be dried and consumed in capsule form or steeped to make tea.
Its use can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, where it was taken to relieve restlessness, tremors, headaches, and heart palpitations. Today, it’s most often utilized to treat insomnia and anxiety (21Trusted Source).
Still, evidence supporting these uses isn’t particularly strong (22Trusted Source).
One review found valerian to be somewhat effective for inducing sleep, but many of the study results were based on subjective reports from participants (23Trusted Source).
Valerian is relatively safe, though it may cause mild side effects like headaches and digestive issues. You shouldn’t take it if you’re on any other sedatives due to the risk of compounding effects, such as excessive malaise and drowsiness (21Trusted Source).
Look for this herb online, as well as various health food stores.


9. Chamomile

Chamomile is a flowering plant that also happens to be one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world.
The flowers are most often used to make tea, but the leaves may also be dried and used for making tea, medicinal extracts, or topical compresses.
For thousands of years, chamomile has been used as a remedy for nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, urinary tract infections, wounds, and upper respiratory infections (24Trusted Source).
This herb packs over 100 active compounds, many of which are thought to contribute to its numerous benefits (24Trusted Source).
Several test-tube and animal studies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activity, though insufficient human research is available (25Trusted Source).
Yet, a few small human studies suggest that chamomile treats diarrhea, emotional disturbances as well as cramping associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and pain and inflammation linked to osteoarthritis (25Trusted Source).
Chamomile is safe for most people but may cause an allergic reaction — especially if you’re allergic to similar plants, such as daisies, ragweed, or marigolds (26Trusted Source).


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Precautions for using herbal medicines
If you’re considering taking herbal supplements, it’s best to consult a health professional to ensure proper dosage, understand potential side effects, and watch out for reactions with other medications.


Because herbal medicines are derived from natural sources, people often assume that they’re inherently safe — but this isn’t necessarily the case.
Like conventional drugs, herbal supplements may cause serious side effects or interfere with other medications you’re taking.
For instance, raw elderberries can be toxic, St. John’s wort can interact dangerously with antidepressants, and valerian root can compound the effects of sedatives.
Additionally, many herbal medicines have not been studied rigorously enough to verify their safety for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Thus, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should talk to your healthcare provider prior to taking any herbal medicines to ensure the best possible outcomes for you and your baby.

Ensuring quality

Another important factor to consider is that herbal medicines are not strictly regulated like other medications.
In some countries, such as the United States, herbal manufacturers don’t have to provide proof of efficacy or purity before marketing their products. As such, some supplements may list ingredients improperly or even contain compounds not stated on the label.
Thus, you should opt for brands that have been tested for quality by a third-partorganization, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia or NSF International.

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Ari Fariz 19
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