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Herbal Treatments

The category of Herbal Treatments is a relatively broad branch of natural medicine that may be one of the earliest forms that humankind has used to treat a variety of disease and conditions. One form of herbal treatment is the herbal teas made in traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine. These teas are often somewhat sweet or bitter in taste with a dark umber of black colour as with most tea, though obviously these properties are dependent on the types of herbs used in the herbal tea in question. Herbal tea, however, should not be confused with tea that derives from the traditional tea plant. In recent years these forms of herbal treatments have become increasingly popular and as such the once traditional and local forms of treatment are becoming commoditized and sold all over the world. This has cause a number of difficulties for regulatory agencies whose duty it is to ensure the safety not only of drugs, but all forms of available treatments that find their way onto the open market. Herbal treatments have presented a number of challenges not only to regulators, but also to established understandings of Western medicine. Generally, this interaction of Western medicine and the increasingly widespread use of Chinese herbs and other natural treatments has been a positive one. This globalization of local treatment options has brought these otherwise unknown forms under increased scientific scrutiny in ways that have challenged our assumptions about medicine and drugs. At the same time the scientific community has had to open up to these traditional modes of treatment that, although they have been used in some cases for several hundred years, have up until now received relatively little attention.

How does Herbal Medicine Work?

According to the Alternative Medicine Foundation, the complexities behind the functioning of herbal medicine are only now beginning to be understood. This is thought to be a result of the incredibly complex and active chemicals that might be present in a single herb. The difficulty of studying herbal remedies of all sorts includes not only the complexities of individual ingredients but also the attempt to understand the further intricate interactions in treatments that involve the interaction of a mixture of herbs. As the Alternative Medicine Foundation stresses, effective research is required to determine the safety of Medicinal Herbs by analyzing not only their effects on humans, but also the ways in which they may or may not interact with other drugs that are currently prescribed. Of late, there has been an increased interest and demand for herbal treatments and as such there have been resulting ecological damage in areas worldwide where these individual plants are grown. In addition, the indigenous groups all around the world, who have been an invaluable resource when it comes to the present state of our knowledge of herbal remedies, are being threatened by the continuing encroachment of outside civilizations.

Safety of Herbal Treatments

Due to the staggering variety of herbal remedies and treatments available, it is always advisable that anyone considering using herbal treatments be fully informed about potential side effects that may occur as a result of the individual treatment option that a patient may choose. Generally, one should be sure to purchase herbal treatments of reputable manufacturers from vendors that can provide the necessary information required for an educated decision about not only the product being used, but also the disease, condition or disorder that the herbal remedy in question is being used to treat. As always, in the case of questions regarding an individuals health, it is generally recommended that one contact a trained professional, such as one’s local physician, in order to be sure that the herbal treatment that one might choose is both safe and will not in any way interact with existing medical treatments or regimens. Herbal treatments and other forms of alternative therapies may not always be welcomed by the medical establishment. However, there have been a number of efforts in many areas of the medical and scientific community to ensure that the treatments that many customers and patients are purchasing and using are getting the full attention that they deserve. Increasingly, the establishment of what is referred to as Western Medicine is coming to be seen from a globalized perspective that includes a number of local and indigenous treatment options. By broadening the traditionally narrow horizons of the Western medical perspective, changes in the regulations and scientific knowledge surrounding herbal treatments have been rapid and wide ranging. These include analyses of the individual scientific compounds found in herbal remedies, some known and others still to be discovered, and the particular native practices of a number of hitherto little examined and even less understood cultures. However, it is important that in the attempts to provide the greatest benefit from these newly understood treatment options that a new blindness is not created with regard to the origin of these practices and herbal remedies. As the Western medical and pharmaceutical establishment changes, it must also be receptive to the unique and oftentimes fragile cultures and ecologies from which herbal treatments and the use of herbal treatments derive. Moreover, in the case of Chinese herbal medicine and treatments, the increasing popularity of these options can be directly tied to the new importance of the Chinese economy in the global economic sphere. Imported goods of Chinese manufacture have prompted a number of challenges due to regulatory infelicities between the relatively laissez faire regulatory practices of the Chinese manufacturing and pharmaceutical establishment and more established modes not only of testing and regulation but of safety and control in the Western pharmaceutical, medical and governmental establishments. Although the renewed importance of herbal remedies and Chinese medical and herbal treatments provide a number of challenges for both individual customers and consumers as well as governmental and intergovernmental trade and regulatory bodies, there has been important progress that will continue to ensure that herbal remedies and treatments are at the forefront of medical progress in the years to come.
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