Monday, September 24, 2012

Herbs Past & Present~# 8-From Plants To Pills

Herbs In Modern Medicine

Although Extracts, such as essential oils have been prepared from various plants for centuries, traditional herbalism has always combined herbs to modify effects, viewing the whole as greater than the parts.

The move to identify the individual active ingredients and use these as single drugs began in the 18th century, and many thousands are now known.
The chemicals display quite different properties from original herbs.

Initally, these drugs could only be obtained from plant extracts, but later the chemical structures of many extracts were identified and the drugs are now made synthetically. In the transition of use from crude plants to clinical pills, modern medicine has lost the art of combining herbs to modify toxicity and of using whole plants which themselves contain chemical ingredients that can reduce the risk of side effects.

Some well known herb plants that were chemically synthesized and we know them today as:

Foxglove....digoxin and digitoxin...used in treating heart conditions today.
( in 1775 Dr. William Withering began testing and research on foxglove and its benefits and side effects. He spent 10 years studying the side effects of foxglove and identifying the plant's optimum dose before publishing his ground-breaking research.

Opium Poppy....morphine, first identified by Friedrich Serturner in Germany-1803 in the form of white crystals from crude opium poppy.

Willowbark....first was salicin, which was later modified to be less of an irritant on the stomach, and acetylsalicylie acid was launched as aspirin-1899, by the Bayer company. In less than 100 years plant extracts have filled pharmacists' shelves.

* Extracted chemicals can often be extremely potent and can cause effects that were unknown when the whole plant was used.

In 1947 CIBA, extracted the alkaloid reserpine from snakeroot and began marketing the drug Serpasil as a cure for hypertension. However, it had severe side effects that included depression and abnormal slowing of the heartbeat. A new drug was developed from the herb in the 1950's. It has always been restricted to prescription only in the US.
To date, however, snakeroot continues to be widely used in parts of Europe and Asia, taken by many as a soothing tranquilizer.

**The information in part for these eight articles comes from The Complete Medicinal Herbal-by-Penelope Ody.

 Disclaimer....Any and all herbal articles from and by Sage Hill is offered totally as educational information only. We do not intend this information to be viewed as medicinal advice for any given treatment.
Sage Hill does not sell Medicinal products nor do we give Medicinal advice.

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