Botanical Medicine

“Modern medicine draws its origins from early herbal therapies.”


Plants have been used as medicines since antiquity and are the foundation of modern pharmacology. Plant substances from around the world are still used for their healing properties and nutritional value.

The earliest written records of civilization always mention the use of herbs for healing. Throughout history there has been a close relationship between people and plants. Around 3000 BC, the Pentsao, or Great Herbal of China, discussed herbal treatments in detail. Another early herbal record called the Ebers Papyrus of 1500 BC, listed over 800 botanical prescriptions used in various disorders. Hippocrates (460-377 BC), was the first to list plants by their use. Paracelsus was the first to publish Materia Medica ( a detailed description of plants and their actions ) of herbs in 1564. The earliest English description was the first United States Pharmacopoeia published in 1820. Over 59% of all new prescriptions written in the United States in the recent past contained at least one ingredient either produced directly from plants or discovered from plants sources and later synthesized.

Modern medicine draws its origins from early herbal therapies. Until the advent of “synthetic medicine” within the past 50-100 years, all medical doctors prescribed herbs routinely. Later research in the chemistry of plants and plant products isolated what is considered the “active principle”. The active principles are prescribed as drugs whose names often still reflect their botanical origins. A commonly known example of this is Digitalis Purpura or Foxglove. This herb has been used as a heart stimulant in “Folk Medicine” for centuries prior to the isolation of its active principle digitoxin.

Within the decade 1940 to 1950, hundreds of new wonder drugs were discovered nearly all of botanical origin.

The use of botanical medicine, or preparations from the entire complex of the botanical plant, is usually safer but slower in action than orthodox drug therapy.

Herbs may be used in many ways to treat disease. Properly used herbs act as aids in stimulating or directing the body’s own healing forces, thus promoting health from within.

Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine are trained in both the Art and Science of the use of botanicals or herbs and are knowledgeable in the historical uses of plants and now their modern pharmacological mechanism(s) to promote the restoration of health.