Herbal Medicine Q&A
by Kamau B. Kokayi, MD
What Is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine (also called botanical or phytomedicine) is the practice of using seeds, roots, leaves, bark and flowers from plants for medicinal purposes. At one time, herbal medicine was the only thing available, and it has thousands of years of tradition behind it. All traditional medical systems, from traditional Chinese medicine to Ayurveda to healing rituals used by Africans and Native Americans, use herbs in some way. Even today, about one-quarter of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from plants. Herbal medicines are commonly used in Europe, often in preference to prescription medications.
How Does It Work?
Plants contain a variety of substances (called “constituents”) that can affect the body. For example, the active ingredient in the original aspirin, salicylic acid, was derived from the leaves and bark of willow trees and was used to reduce fevers and help headaches. Digitalis, derived from the plant of the same name, affects the heart. Different plants (and sometimes different parts of the same plant) have different effects.
What Herbs Are Used?
Nearly every kind of plant has been used at some point as an herbal remedy. Scientists have found that traditional healers typically used the same plants in similar ways or used related plants for the same purpose. In addition to their therapeutic uses, plants are often used for in everyday life or are eaten and drunk as part of the normal diet (such as coffee, which contains the drug caffeine, tea, and herbal supplements).
What Is Herbal Medicine Used for?
Modern herbal medications are used for a wide variety of ailments. Many can be sold over-the-counter or are considered food supplements. However, those used in herbal medicine are more likely to be tested for purity and to contain a standardized dose. Herbal medications are often used when conventional medicine isn’t helpful, or the medications have side effects. In some cases, they are used as preventives; feverfew, for example, may reduce migraine headaches when taken regularly. They are also used in the treatment of allergies, asthma, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia.
You’ll not find a more comprehensive and balanced approach to healing than Dr. Kokayi. He combines the best of western, eastern, Chinese, traditional/indigenous and Homeopathic healing modalities. And he’s humble enough to know that he doesn’t know it all (though more than most) and is still seeking knowledge. In addition, Dr. Kokayi is making a global effort to seek out and connect successful healing modalities from all around the globe. He saw me for just a few minutes one day at a health fair and immediately zeroed in on some issues I was having – without using any equipment (although he is connected to some of the most advanced energy based healing equipment on the planet.) Check him out.