In some Asian and African countries, 80% of the population depend on traditional medicine for primary health care. In many developed countries, 70% to 80% population has used some form of Complement and Alternative Medicine (CAM) (e.g. Acupuncuture).
Herbal treatments are the most popular form of traditional medicine, and are in great demand in the international marketplace. Annual revenues in Western Europe reached US$ 5 billion in 2003-2004. In China sales of products totaled US$ 14 billion in 2005. Herbal medicine revenue in Brazil was US$ 160 million in 2007.
Herbal medicine can treat various infectious and chronic conditions. New antimalarial drugs were developed from the discovery and isolation of artemisinin from Artemisia annua L., a plant used in China for almost 2000 years.
More than 100 countries have regulations for herbal medicines.
Ancient Chinese herbal formulas are as effective now as they were when first introduced more than 2,000 years ago. Most formulas consist of single to eighteen different herbs. Formulas can treat a wide variety of symptoms while stimulating the body's natural healing process. Medical studies prescribing individualized complex herbal formulas have demonstrated excellent results with patients who fail to respond to conventional pharmaceutical treatments.
Formulas may be taken as teas, pills, capsules, granules, or tinctures depending on the patient and the recommendation of the practitioner. Chinese herbal medicine is generally safe and effective when prescribed by a qualified practitioner of Chinese medicine.
Usually acupuncture treatment work most effectively when combined with prescribed herbs and dosages.
In fact, “Many of the modern day drugs have been developed from these herbs such as the treatments for asthma and hay fever from Chinese ephedra, hepatitis remedies from schizandra fruits and licorice roots and a number of anticancer agents from trees and shrubs”. “There are several herbal drugs that invigorate the energy, nourish the blood, calm tension and regulate menstruation such as Bupleurum Sedative Pills and Women’s Precious Pills”. There are over three hundred herbs that are commonly used today with a history which traces back at least 2,000 years.
Most Chinese herbs are usually used to help build and strengthen the body. The most commonly used herbs are Ginseng (人參, renshen), wolfberry, Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis, 當歸, tang-kuei or danggui), astragalus (黃耆, huangqi), atractylodes (白朮, baizhu), bupleurum (柴胡, chaihu), cinnamon(cinnamon twigs (桂枝, guizhi) and cinnamon bark (肉桂, rougui)), coptis (黃蓮, huanglian), ginger (薑, jiang), hoelen (茯苓, fuling), licorice (甘草, gancao), ephedra sinica (麻黃, ma-huang), peony (white: 白芍, baishao and reddish: 赤芍, chihhao), rehmannia (地黃, dihuang), rhubarb (大黃, dahuang), and salvia (丹參, danshen). These are just a few of the herbs.
Dr Margaret Chan -- Director-General Of World Health Organization (WHO)'s speech: Address at the WHO Congress on Traditional Medicine (Nov 2008 Beijing): http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2008/20081107/en/index.html
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