The use of specific herbs for medicinal purposes dates back thousands of years. Several herbs are mentioned in the Bible and archeologists have documented herbal usage back to prehistoric times. Herbs are used around the world, including Western herbs from North America, Aryuveic herbs from India and traditional Chinese herbs.
Approximately 25% of our conventional drugs are derived from plants. Conventional drugs typically contain a single active constituent from the plant, whereas herbs provide a broader and more balanced effect on the body through the synergistic actions of the herbal components. Herbs are best prescribed to treat the entire individual and not only the clinical signs. Herbal blends and formulations combine the benefits of multiple herbs, which typically produces a synergistic action while minimizing the potential toxic effects of a single herb. Herbs provide many unique qualities that are very limited in conventional medicine, such as anti-cancer, anti-viral and immuno-regulation properties.
Currently, herbal products are not regulated or controlled. Therefore, practitioners and clients must remain cautious in administering a product without evaluating the company and verifying that the active component of the herb or plant is actually in the formulation. Product labels can bear the name of an herb or plant substance as long as some portion of it is present in the formulation, but it does not necessarily imply that the medicinally active constituent is included. Standardized extracts are available for certain herbs through concentrating the active ingredients, resulting in more of a plant drug than an herbal medicine
Standardizing alters the physical and energetic nature of the herb. This process also eliminated the synergistic effects of the myriad of chemical components in the plant. For some herbs, such as milk thistle, standardization is advantageous since the specific active constituent is clearly known and strengthened in the process. Other factors that affect the potency and medicinally active components of the herb include the method and time of harvest, the part and preparation of the plant included and the handling and processing of the finished product. Only well-known and respected herbal companies should be considered when purchasing herbal products. Whenever possible, fresh herbs or glycerin-based extracts should be used.
Herbs are effective in the treatment of many conditions in pets. Herbal remedies are much more effective than conventional therapy in treating metabolic conditions, such as liver and kidney diseases. Herbs are an excellent alternative to antibiotics in the treatment of infectious diseases, with wider antibacterial effects as well as various antifungal and antiviral actions. Many of these herbal remedies also support the immune system to assist in the full recovery of the patient. Some herbal formulations serve as detoxification agents, antioxidants, and anti-cancer therapies.