What is phytotherapy and what plants are used to make medicines

Phytotherapy is the oldest method of treating various diseases.

It existed long before the advent of pharmacology. Now she has a lot of supporters. They believe that plants are safer than medicines, which are products of the chemical industry. From this material you will learn what is the place of herbal medicine in modern medicine, whether it is really possible to be treated with herbs.

How did phytotherapy develop?

Pharmacology is a fairly young science, it originated in the middle of the 19th century. However, this does not mean that people did not fight diseases before – they simply used plants for this. Information about their healing properties was mentioned in the writings of Ebers as early as the second millennium BC.

The greatest contribution to the development of herbal treatment methods was made by:
• Sushruta – the author of Ayurvedic treatises;
• Hippocrates – made an attempt to systematize knowledge about medicinal plants;
• Li Shi-Zhen – the author of the first Chinese pharmacopoeia;
• Galen – compiler of the first ointments and tinctures;
• Paracelsus – the first to use alcohol extracts from plants for medical purposes.
In our country, phytotherapeutic knowledge was collected in herbalists, while the achievements of other states were studied in parallel. Having visited the Athos Monastery, the inhabitants of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra compiled many manuals on herbal medicine.

Herbal Treatment Methods
Today, the approach to therapy has changed, but from time to time people turn to natural medicines.

Within the framework of phytotherapy, the following methods are practiced:
• Ingestion (usually drinking). For several millennia, recipes have been created for almost all occasions, so it is difficult to indicate the scope of drinking herbal remedies.
• External application (hot poultices, cold compresses, ointments). Used for dermatological, fungal diseases, for the treatment of injuries.
• Inhalations. They are used for diseases of the respiratory system, to facilitate the discharge of sputum, to relieve bronchospasm.
• Douching. Focused on women suffering from gynecological diseases.
• Microclysters. This refers not to cleansing, but to medical procedures. Help with inflammation of the mucous membrane of the rectum, dysbacteriosis, hemorrhoids.

Injections and intravenous infusions are not practiced as part of phytotherapy. On the one hand, it is unsafe, on the other hand, it does not correspond to the natural concept of treatment.

Types of herbal remedies

There are thousands of recipes. If you group them, you can derive the main forms of natural medicines:
• Decoction. Rigid raw materials are taken (roots, bark, less often – branches) and aged in a water bath for at least half an hour. It must be cooled, strained and used within two days if stored in an airtight container.
• Infusion. Soft raw materials are taken (leaves, stems, buds, flowers) and poured with already boiled water (the temperature depends on the recipe). The product needs to stand at room temperature for an average of 4 hours. You can store it for no more than a day.
• Herbal collection. Dried raw materials are poured with boiling water (similar to tea), it should be consumed at a time.
• Alcohol tincture. Vegetable raw materials are poured with alcohol or vodka, and the container is placed in a dark place for a month. The tincture is used in small doses, and the base allows you to store it for a long time.
• Ointment. Vegetable raw materials are crushed, mixed with a fatty base (vaseline, butter) and boiled over low heat.
• Extract (plant extract). Active substances are obtained by water-glycerin or oil maceration.

Phytopreparations are selected according to various criteria. Some are guided by well-known recipes and indications for their use, others by the presence of suitable ingredients in the required state.