The word herb in herbal medicine refers to a plant or
plant part that is used to make medicine, spices, or aromatic oils.
An herb can be a leaf, flower, stern, seed, root, fruit, bark, or
any other plant part used for its medicinal property[i]
Herbs have provided humankind with medicine from the
earliest beginnings of civilization.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have handed down their
accumulated knowledge of the medicinal use of herbs to successive
generations. This vast body of information serves as the basis for
much of traditional medicine today.
There are an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 plants on the
earth today, but only about 5,000 have been extensively studied for
their medicinal applications. "This illustrates the need for modern
medicine and science to turn its attention to the plant world once
again to find new medicines that might cure contemporary medical
conditions," says Norman R. Farnsworth, Ph.D., Research Professor of
Pharmacognosy at the University of Illinois, in Chicago.
"Considering that 121 prescription drugs come from only 90 species
of plants, and that 74% of these were discovered by following the
ancient herbal formulas, a logical person would have to say that
there may still be more ‘jackpots’ out there."[ii]
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Herbal Medicine Works]
Herb Trade Association.
"Definition of 'Herb'." (Austin, TX: Herb Trade Association,
M. Blumenthal. "Focus on
Rain Forest Remedies." Herbal Gram 27 (1992), 8-10. R.
Eisner. "Botanists Ply Trade in Tropics, Seeking Plant-Based
Medicinals." The Scientist 4 (June 1991), 1, 4, 5, 25.