The Magic of Plants Part 2
Herbal Medicines in India

In the last post, we learned about the history and benefits of herbal medicines. Here, we discuss the curative properties of commonly used herbs and best practices for their use in our everyday life as suggested by naturopathy practitioners in India.

Herbal medicines used in India

India’s tradition of using herbal medicines goes back thousands of years. Here are some commonly used herbal medicines in India:

  1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Indian ginseng or winter cherry

Benefits: Ashwagandha is considered an adaptogenic herb. It reduces stress, boosts energy, and improves overall vitality.

  1. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) or Holy basil.

Benefits: Tulsi is a sacred plant and is also revered for its many medicinal properties. It is known to boost immunity, treat respiratory disorders, and promote general well-being.

  1. Triphala. This is a combination of three fruits: Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Bibhitaki (Belleric myrobalan), and Haritaki (Chebulic myrobalan).

Benefits: It is useful to manage gastric issues. It is useful as a gentle laxative and digestive tonic.

  1. Neem (Azadirachta indica)

Benefits: It is known for its antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has helped treat skin disorders, promote oral health, and support the immune system.

  1. Aloe vera

Benefits: This succulent plant has soothing and healing properties. It is commonly used for skin conditions and burns and to promote digestive health.

  1. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)

Benefits: Brahmi is a brain-boosting herb. It has traditionally been used to improve memory, focus, and overall cognitive function.

  1. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Benefits: The ‘curcumin’ compound in turmeric is said to have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It alleviates various inflammatory conditions and promotes overall health.

  1. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Benefits: Ginger, besides being a well-known spice that is used commonly in Indian cuisine, is also a big part of traditional medicine. It helps manage digestive issues, is used widely to reduce nausea, and improves overall circulation.

  1. Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), is also known as Guduchi.

Benefits: This is an immune-boosting herb that is helpful in the treatment of fever and respiratory issues and in improving immunity.

  1. Guggul (Commiphora wightii)

Benefits: This is known for its cholesterol-lowering properties. It also supports joint health.

These are just a few examples of the numerous herbal medicines in use today. During the pandemic, The Ministry of AYUSH (Govt of India) has listed many herbal and plant-based formulations as a prophylactic measure to help the citizens. It is important to remember that while herbal remedies are beneficial, it is best to consult a qualified practitioner before using them, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking other medications.

How to use Herbal Medicines (along with conventional medicine)

To ensure safety and effectiveness when using herbal remedies, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Consult a healthcare professional: It is a good idea to consult with a qualified healthcare professional, such as a medical doctor, herbalist, or naturopathic doctor, before adding herbal medicines to your treatment plan. These professionals can help provide personalized recommendations based on your health condition, medications, and needs.
  • Inform your healthcare provider: Some herbs may interfere with anaesthesia or blood clotting, so to ensure safety from drug interactions with prescription medications, remember to share information with your healthcare provider.
  • Choose reputable herbal products: Select certified, high-quality herbal products to ensure purity and potency. Ensure the products you use are from reputable sources and have been evaluated by regulating authorities.
  • Start with low doses: When starting a new herbal medicine alongside conventional treatment, begin with a low dose to assess how your body responds to the change. Trust and follow your healthcare practitioners’ guidelines.
  • Monitor change and progress: Pay attention to any changes in your health and symptoms when using herbal remedies alongside conventional medicine. If you experience any adverse effects, discontinue use and inform your healthcare provider.
  • Be patient and consistent: Herbal remedies are tailored to your body’s unique requirements; thus, to see noticeable effects, remember to be patient and consistent with their use.
  • Complement your treatment: Be careful and avoid replacing prescribed medications for serious or acute medical conditions. Instead, use herbal medicines as a complementary therapy to support your overall health and well-being.
  • Seek evidence-based knowledge: Look for scientific research and clinical studies supporting the use of specific herbal medicines for your health condition. Reliable sources of information include peer-reviewed journals and reputable healthcare institutions.
  • Follow professional advice: It is necessary to follow the recommendations and guidelines provided by your healthcare professional when using herbal medicines alongside conventional treatment.

Today, the use of herbal medicines is gaining popularity globally. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has started taking initiatives such as The Global Centre for Traditional Medicine to showcase the importance of herbal medicines. Just remember we all play our own unique part in improving the health of our planet and its beings by harnessing the potential of traditional medicine, be it as a consumer or provider of health. If you are choosing herbal medicines, please educate yourself, consult with a professional, and share your knowledge & feedback. Always, please exercise caution and commonsense. In the last part of this series, we will learn how to grow your own medicinal herbs.

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