Herbs that are used for medicinal purposes come in a variety of forms. Active parts of a plant may include leaves, flowers, stems, roots, seeds, and berries (Woolf, 2003). They may be taken internally as pills or powders, dissolved into tinctures or syrups, or brewed in teas and decoctions. Salves, ointments, shampoos, or poultices may be applied to the skin, scalp, or mucous membranes. Many plants contain essential oils that are distilled, packaged, and sold unregulated to the public for medicinal purposes. Essential oils include any of a class of volatile oils composed of a mixture of complex hydrocarbons (often terpenes, alkaloids, and other large molecular weight compounds) extracted from a plant. Essential oils give the plant its characteristic aroma and will evaporate quickly from the skin or another surface; they are so concentrated that, if applied directly to the skin, they will often cause inflammation and dermatitis. Fixed oils are nonvolatile oils made of long-chain fatty acids, such as mineral oil or safflower oil. These are often used as carriers into which a few drops of the very concentrated essential oil are diluted during their application. Resins are solid or semisolid organic substances found in plant secretions; they are usually applied found in plant secretions; they are usually applied
During the latter part of the 20th century the practice of herbalism has become mainstream throughout the world (Elvin-Lewis, 2001). This is due in part to the recognition of the value of traditional medical systems, particularly of Asian origin, and the identification of medicinal plants from indigenous pharmacopeias that have been shown to have significant healing power, either in their natural state or as the source of new pharmaceuticals, the need to make health care affordable for all, and the perception that natural remedies are somehow safer and more efficacious than remedies that are pharmaceutically derived. Generally these formulations are considered moderate in efficacy and thus less toxic than most pharmaceutical agents. In the Western world, in particular, the developing concept that ‘natural’ is better than ‘chemical’ or ‘synthetic’ has led to the evolution of Neo-Western herbalism that is the basis of an ever expanding industry. In the US, often guised as food, or food supplements, known as nutraceuticals, these formulations are readily available for those that wish to self-medicate.
Patients' use of alternative and complementary health services has created a need for physicians to become informed about the current literature regarding these treatments. Herbal remedies (Wong, 1998) may be encountered in psychiatric practice when they are used to treat psychiatric symptoms; produce changes in mood, thinking, or behavior as a side effect; or interact with psychiatric medications. English-language articles and translated abstracts or articles (where available) found on MEDLINE and sources from the alternative/complementary health field were reviewed. Each herb was assessed for its safety, side effects, drug interactions, and efficacy in treating target symptoms or diagnoses. A synopsis of the information available for each herb is presented. In many cases the quantity and quality of data were insufficient to make definitive conclusions about efficacy or safety. However, there was good evidence for the efficacy of St John's wort for the treatment of depression and for ginkgo in the treatment of memory impairment caused by dementia.
Autism is a comprehensive growth abnormality in which social skills, language, communication, and behavioral skills are developed with delay and as diversionary (Bahmani, 2016). The reasons for autism are unclear, but various theories of genetics, immunity, biological, and psychosocial factors have been proffered. In fact, autism is a complex disorder with distinct causes that usually co-occur. Although no medicine has been recognized to treat this disorder, pharmacological treatments can be effective in reducing its signs, such as self-mutilation, aggression, repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, inattention, hyperactivity, and sleeping disorders. Recently, complementary and alternative approaches have been considered to treat autism. Ginkgo biloba is one of the most effective plants with an old history of applications in neuropsychological disorders which recently is used for autism.
Periodontal diseases (Kumar, 2009), if left unchecked, can lead to major health problems. There are a number of traditional herbal remedies for the treatment and management of diseases related to teeth, gum and oral hygiene. Use of clove oil is an age old remedy still practiced for periodontal problems.
Hypertension is a common problem facing many people today (Ernst, 2007). Although billions of dollars are spent annually for the treatment and detection of cardiovascular disease, current conventional treatments have done little to reduce the number of patients with hypertension. Alternative medicine offers an effective way to decrease the rising number of people with high blood pressure. Research has found a variety of alternative therapies to be successful in reducing high blood pressure including diet, exercise, stress, management, supplements and herbs. Every year, more and more studies are being performed on herbal remedies for high blood pressure. There are many herbal drugs like Punarnava, Barberry, Rouwolfia, Garlic, Ginger, Ginseng and Arjuna which can safely be used for the treatment of hypertension.
For a variety of reasons (Elvin-Lewis, 2001) more individuals nowadays prefer to take personal control over their health, not only in the prevention of diseases but also to treat them. This is particularly true for a wide variety of chronic or incurable diseases (cancer, diabetes, arthritis) or acute illnesses readily treated at home (common cold etc.) Four general types of Herbal Medicine exist which are Asian, European, Indigenous and Neo-Western. Many like the Asian and European systems go back thousands of years, appear in pharmacopeia, and with such a tradition of use are better understood than those of indigenous origins that are often only orally or secondarily recorded.
Elvin-Lewis, Memory. "Should we be concerned about herbal remedies." Journal of ethnopharmacology 75, no. 2-3 (2001): 141-164.
Wong, Albert HC, Michael Smith, and Heather S. Boon. "Herbal remedies in psychiatric practice." Archives of general psychiatry 55, no. 11 (1998): 1033-1044.
Woolf, Alan D. "Herbal remedies and children: do they work? Are they harmful?." PEDIATRICS-SPRINGFIELD- 112, no. 1; ISSU 2 (2003): 240-246.
Ernst, Edzard. "Herbal remedies for depression and anxiety." Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 13, no. 4 (2007): 312-316.
Bahmani, Mahmoud, Amir Sarrafchi, Hedayatollah Shirzad, and Mahmoud Rafieian-Kopaei. "Autism: Pathophysiology and promising herbal remedies." Current pharmaceutical design 22, no. 3 (2016): 277-285.
Kumar, Pramod, Shahid H. Ansari, and Javed Ali. "Herbal remedies for the treatment of periodontal disease-a patent review." Recent Patents on Drug Delivery & Formulation 3, no. 3 (2009): 221-228.