Herbal medicine (or "herbalism") is the study and use of medicinal properties of plants. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts. Pharmacognosy is the study of all medicines that are derived from natural sources.

Plants have the ability to synthesize a wide variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform important biological functions, and to defend against attack from predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals. Many of these phytochemicals have beneficial effects on long-term health when consumed by humans, and can be used to effectively treat human diseases. At least 12,000 such compounds have been isolated so far; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total. Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effects on the human body through processes identical to those already well understood for the chemical compounds in conventional drugs; thus herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. This enables herbal medicines to be as effective as conventional medicines, but also gives them the same potential to cause harmful side effects.

The use of plants as medicines predates written human history. Ethnobotany (the study of traditional human uses of plants) is recognized as an effective way to discover future medicines. In 2001, researchers identified 122 compounds used in modern medicine which were derived from "ethnomedical" plant sources; 80% of these have had an ethnomedical use identical or related to the current use of the active elements of the plant. Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including aspirin, digitalis, quinine, and opium.

The use of herbs to treat disease is almost universal among non-industrialized societies, and is often more affordable than purchasing expensive modern pharmaceuticals. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Studies in the United States and Europe have shown that their use is less common in clinical settings, but has become increasingly more in recent years as scientific evidence about the effectiveness of herbal medicine has become more widely available.

Read more about Herbalist:  History, Modern Herbal Medicine, Traditional Herbal Medicine Systems, Herbal Philosophy and Spiritual Practices, Uses of Herbal Medicines By Animals, Extinction of Medicinal Plant Species

Other articles related to "herbalist, herbalists":

Tales Of Pirates - Classes - Primary Classes - Herbalist
... Herbalist is a magical class that uses stave's to deal magical damage ... Herbalist can advance to cleric or a seal master ... Ami and Phyllis can become a herbalist ...
Michael Moore (herbalist)
9, 1941 – February 20, 2009) was a medicinal herbalist, author of several reference works on botanical medicine, and founder of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine (SWSBM) ... Before he was an herbalist Michael Moore was a musician and a composer ... Moore influenced, impacted, taught, reached one way or another more practicing herbalists than any other living herbalist in the United States ...
Indiana Botanic Gardens - The Company
... Botanic Gardens was founded in 1910 by horticulturalist/herbalist Joseph Meyer (1878–1950) in a small cottage in the rear of his home in Hammond ... Meyer published a 400-page book in 1918 entitled, The Herbalist ... Seven years later The Herbalist Almanac, an annual publication, was produced in 1925 ...
Ella Birzneck - Biography
... and apothecary her grandmother, was a midwife, nurse, and herbalist. 1942 when her husband, injured in an auto accident, was brought to recovery by the efforts of an herbalist and a chiropractor ... Herbert Nowell at Dominion Herbal College, receiving her Master Herbalist degree ...
Shakoor V Situ - Judgment
... He considered the argument that a herbalist should be held to the same standard as a normal NHS doctor, but disagreed ... "The Chinese herbalist, for example, does not hold himself out as a practitioner of orthodox medicine ... So long, said Livesey QC, as the herbalist complies with the UK's laws, does not prescribe prohibited or regulated substances under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act 1933, the Medicines Act ...