Long before pharmaceutical drugs were around, ancient health care providers used plants to treat illness. The oldest written text that mentions the use of medicinal plants is documented on a 5,000-year-old Sumerian clay slab. This famous slab contains 12 herbal recipes and refers to over 250 plants.1
Biljana Petrovska, a pharmacy faculty member from Methodius University states, “Healing with medicinal plants is as old as mankind itself. The connection between man and his search for drugs in nature dates from the far past, of which there is ample evidence from various sources: written documents, preserved monuments, and even original plant medicines.”1 Even though the pharmaceutical drug boom replaced many of these old remedies, medicinal plants still have their spotlight.
Like pharmaceuticals, medicinal plants work by containing an active ingredient that impacts the body in some way. For example, Tanacetum parthenium L., also known as Feverfew, is a bright white and yellow flower that contains biologically active sesquiterpene lactones.2 These lactones are thought to be responsible for binding and inhibiting pro-inflammatory compounds.
A recent survey of American use of herbal supplements found that out of 26,157 respondents, one third reported using at least one herbal preparation.3 Interestingly, the survey also found that individuals with chronic diseases were more likely to use herbal medicines than those who did not have chronic diseases. Lastly, the survey discovered that over-the-counter (OTC) drug users were also more likely to consume herbs than those who did not purchase OTC drugs, emphasizing the importance of understanding drug and herbal interactions.
If you are new to the concept of medicinal plants but want to give them a try, here are three of the most popular herbs that Persona offers.
Ashwagandha, also called Indian Winter Cherry or Indian Ginseng, is a popular herb in Ayurveda practices. Ashwagandha has been used to boost brain and nervous system function, improve memory, support the reproductive system, promote sexual health, fight stress, and protect the body from cellular damage.4 It is commonly used today to support the body in times of increased exposure to stress and promote healthy muscle mass, strength, and recovery after physical exercise.
Gingko Biloba Extract comes from the Maidenhair tree, native to China. This tree has been growing for thousands of years and is sometimes referred to as a living fossil because it is the only existing plant left in its division.5 Gingko has many uses but is often thought of as the “brain boosting” medicinal plant. Gingko can be used to boost blood circulation to the brain and reduce free radical damage from oxidative stress.6,7
Stress is unavoidable, and many American’s suffer from chronic stress daily. In 2016, NBC News reported that 1 in 6 Americans take an antidepressant or other psychiatric drug.8 While Rhodiola cannot be taken in conjunction with antidepressants, studies have shown that Rhodiola supports symptoms of depression, insomnia, and emotional instability. It also has anti-fatigue effects and is often used to boost energy, a great bonus.9
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As Hippocrates once said, “Nature itself is the best physician”.