Phytotherapy: Uses, Warnings, How to take And Much More



Phytotherapy is the use of medicines derived from plants to treat and prevent disease. Phytotherapy is a science-based medical practice and as such differs from more traditional approaches such as medicinal herbalism, which are based on empirical evidence. of medicinal herbs and which is often linked to traditional knowledge.

A herbalist’s approach has not generally been evaluated in controlled clinical trials or rigorous biomedical studies, while there are numerous studies and pharmacological studies of specific phytotherapeutic compounds. The interpretation and acceptance of such evidence for phytotherapeutic practices vary.

In some countries, it is considered sufficient to authorize herbal medicines as medicines, while in other countries herbal medicine is considered a form of traditional medicine.

There are a number of phytotherapeutic preparations in use.

Examples include ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) leaf preparations, used to treat a range of minor cognitive disorders and certain other central nervous system disorders; the aerial parts of St. John’s Wort (St.Johnswort; Hypericum perforatum), commonly used to treat mild to moderate forms of depression; the aerial parts and roots of Echinacea Angustifolia (and other species of echinacea), used to treat and prevent colds and other respiratory diseases; and parts of the African harpagophyte (Harpagophytum procumbens), whose root is used to treat chronic back pain.

History of phytotherapy

The concept of phytotherapy originated with the French physician Henri Leclerc, who first used the term in 1913 and published several editions of the Précis de phytothérapie (“Phytotherapy Handbook”), the first in 1922. Phytotherapy made its way into the English language with its common definition in 1934 introduced by Eric Frederick William Powell, an English practitioner of herbalism and homeopathy. However, the English term only gained wider acceptance much later.

In 1960, German herbalist and physician Rudolf Fritz Weiss published the Textbook of Phytotherapy (1960; Herbal Medicine), which became the definitive German textbook on the subject.

The work was first published in a different form in 1944 under the name “Plant Medicine in Medical Practice”.

Both Leclerc’s and Weiss’ approaches shared a strong focus on what later came to be termed evidence-based medicine.

Another important milestone in the history of phytotherapy was the publication of the journal Phytotherapy Research in 1, edited by the British pharmacist Fred Evans.

In 1997 the book Rational Phytotherapy was published under the direction of the American pharmacist Varro Tyler.

The work was an English translation of the German book Rationale Phytotherapie: Ratgeber für dis Ärztliche Praxis (3rd edition, 1996), written by Volker Schulz and Rudolf Hänsel.

The regulatory maze

The terminology of the different treatments associated with herbal substances continues to be confusing. While herbal medicines with a clearly defined application profile (one based on scientific and medical knowledge as phytotherapeutic products, others consider such products as dietary supplements.

The latter implies that herbal medicines are unproven therapies and are treated as such in some countries. For example, in the United States, all herbal

The products are classified as dietary supplements. To complicate matters further, herbalism is sometimes referred to as phytotherapy, and both herbalism and phytotherapy are sometimes referred to as herbal medicine.

Similarly, the preparations used in phytotherapy and herbalism can be called medicines or phytomedicine. The confusion between phytotherapy and herbalism is also reflected in a complex regulatory situation where assessments of what can and cannot be called medicinal vary widely.

The differences are often the result of different legal frameworks put in place by countries or regions such as the European Union.

For places that have laws or regulations governing herbal products, there are specific quality assurance requirements.

The requirements aim to provide consumers with a relatively high level of reassurance by regulating product quality throughout the supply and value chain, from wild collection or processing of (harvested from the wild) plants to the manufacture and marketing of the final product.

Products used in herbal medicine are generally manufactured industrially using routine procedures distinct from herbal medicine.

Difference between the batches of products sold by a single company in the market.

However, the composition of one and the same phytotherapeutic can vary from company to company.

How to take phytotherapeutic supplements

Like many other medicines, herbal medicines are commercially available as tablets, capsules, or oral suspensions. Although they are based on herbal substances, their pharmacological action has been proven and confirmed, as well as possible side effects.

Therefore, phytotherapeutic medicines should always be used with a doctor’s prescription and in strict compliance with the dosage and application instructions Absorption of the drug or non-use of the treatment.

Contraindications and warnings related to the use of phytotherapy supplements


Phytotherapy warnings:

Although the active ingredients based on herbal remedies are plant substances, their pharmacological action has been proven and confirmed.

Therefore, phytotherapy must be given the same attention as taking all other medicines. Therefore, it is fundamental that the quantity of the product taken is different from that of traditional medicines, depending on the characteristics of the person (weight, age, state of health, etc.).

It is also good to remember that herbal agents, like any other medicine, can cause side effects, have contraindications, cause allergic reactions, cause harmful interactions with other medicines or with certain foods, and may not be recommended.

Treatment during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding.

Phytotherapy and national health systems

The practice of phytotherapy varies greatly around the world. In some countries, such as South Korea and Japan, proven phytotherapy products are integrated into health insurance coverage. Other countries, including China, India, and Nepal, provide comprehensive health care for herbal medicines included in traditional medicine services.

However, in most other parts of the world, these products are not integrated into healthcare or health insurance programs.

They are more of a patient’s private choice and are often sold as over-the-counter (OTC) products, although these products may be recommended or prescribed by a variety of healthcare professionals, including general practitioners. and naturopathic doctors.

Since phytotherapy is a healing process based on scientific or medical knowledge, its products are pharmacologically active drugs, similar to conventional drugs. associated with various philosophical principles in general.


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