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Chapter: Modern Pharmacology with Clinical Applications: Herbal Medicine

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Herbal Medicine Traditions

Chinese traditional medicine, Ayurvedic (Indian), and Tibetan traditions use complex herbal recipes and nutrition to achieve “balance” in the ill pa-tient.

HERBAL MEDICINE TRADITIONS

 

Chinese traditional medicine, Ayurvedic (Indian), and Tibetan traditions use complex herbal recipes and nutrition to achieve “balance” in the ill pa-tient. Although these practices are most commonly found in ethnic populations, they are also becoming popular in some western complementary and alternative circles.

 

Homeopathic treatments frequently bear herbal names and are often confused with allopathic herbal preparations.


The difference is that homeopathic reme-dies are serially diluted and shaken until they may lack any molecule of the original herb ingredient. Therefore, there is no risk of pharmacological toxicity from a homeopathic preparation. Bach’s Flower Remedies are a homeopathic variation in which flower essences are created by floating flowers in sunlit water. These essences are usually intended as remedies for emotional and spiritual rather than specific physical complaints.

 

Aromatherapy uses a variety of fragrant plant oils to treat mood or physical problems either topically (as an adjunct to massage) or through inhalation. Some of these oils are quite potent, and if not used in proper di-lution, they may cause skin irritation or contact allergy. Toxic ingestions are also possible.

 

Herbs from these traditions often are administered in a confusing array of preparations (Table 69.2). In the U. S. market, tablet and capsule formulations are the most popular, while overseas, teas or infusions of herbs are the most widely used. Tinctures consist of an herb steeped in a mix of alcohol and water, and extracts con-sist of one part herb to one part ethyl alcohol. The alco-hol content can be a concern, particularly with children. Some of these products have been withdrawn by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this reason but may still be available outside the United States.


 

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