For centuries herbs and plant extracts have been used by different cultures such as Indian, African and Asian to treat various medical conditions. Furthermore, the effectiveness of many of these remedies has been proven by modern science; hence the development of the term “Medicinal Herbs”, which is how they are commonly referred to today. This has also led to the development of many pharmaceutical drugs that are derivatives and extracts from herbs and plants e.g. digitalis from the Foxglove plant for heart arrhythmias and acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) from White Willow, just to name a few.
The development and mass production of synthetic derivatives of compounds found in nature has grown into a multi-billion dollar business for the pharmaceutical industry, but it has not been without adverse ramifications. Typically, pharmaceutical companies are required to go through a very rigorous process as required by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) before gaining approval to distribute their products to the public. This is so they clearly delineate the indications for usage, populations of people that should be using the product, as well as to determine the potential risk of adverse events/side effects.
Despite going through a rigorous FDA approval process before distribution to the public; historically we have seen that safety profiles for many pharmaceutical products have not always been very good. More often than not the potential risks of taking a product are worse than the disease condition being treated. Because of these concerns, consumers are now more than ever looking for safer alternatives to manage their health.