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Published on January 28th, 2014 | by Martha Kent

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The science of natural remedies

As soon as we take our first steps into this world, we understand that health is the most precious gift that was given to us. If we consider the average life expectancy from 200 years ago (under 40), we can truly say that we are blessed to live longer in an era where everything is connected to the Internet, where the community is diverse and the everything is at one push of a button away.  Thanks to modern medicine, most diseases can be diagnosed, treaded or contained using advanced medical techniques and surgery robots that are getting better results every year. According to United Nations World Population Prospects 2012, the life expectancy in 2013 is 70.7 years, which means that humans live 30 years longer than 200 years ago.

bad_pharma

But are the drugs that we take the only way to prolong our life and maintain our good health? Ben Goldacre is a British physician that wrote a popular book called Bad Pharma where he unveils unthinkable facts: some pharmaceutical companies and doctors are misleading patients to take drugs that were proven to be ineffective and sometimes unsafe. And even if these drugs work, the patient can experience side effects that sometimes produce damage that’s worse than the original condition. If drugs are taken for a longer period of time, they can be dangerous to our body and in some cases even deadly. That’s one of the disadvantages of modern lifestyle: people don’t have the time to worry too much about things. If you have a small health problem, you buy a “quick fix” and you’re good to go about your business. But what happens when that fix is not working anymore? Then, you try something stronger that will do the job. Over time, the body becomes resistant to all these drugs and if you are going to have a real condition that threatens your life, the medicines will no longer work as they should. So, what is to be done?

Science meets nature

The healing properties of plants have been used since ancient times to treat various diseases and ancient doctors tried to discover new therapeutic herbals that are not harmful to human body. Royal Society of Medicine writes that in 1820, 70% of drugs available on the market were based on natural plants. Although from 1960, that percent diminished to 5.3 percents there are places like South Asia where at least 1,800 plants are used in treatments that involve around 800 million patients. World Health Organization (WHO)  writes that people in underdeveloped countries are still using herbal medicine as primary health care. China has a long history of using the power of natural remedies to treat the sufferers, and many European countries are already paying more attention to herbal therapies. People all over the globe finally understand the risk of abusing medical drugs and the beneficial results of traditional medicine. Although most natural remedies like Elixir of Echinacea are used – with success – to help the body fight common cold or flu type infections, there are herbals that will help in more severe conditions. A study at University of Maryland Medical Center (www.umm.edu) revealed that the plant called Hawthorn (Crataegus species) can be used to control blood pressure, cholesterol and to protect patients against heart diseases. This study is only an example of how a simple plant can be an adjuvant (or even a substituent) to conventional drugs.

Conclusion

The beneficial effects of herbals are known to man ever since the Paleolithic age. Although modern medicine is no longer using natural remedies as the main type of treatment for patients, there are many studies that highlight the effectiveness of herbal treatments in various conditions and diseases. The advantages of these remedies (no side effects and no habit forming) make them the perfect choice for colds, skin problems and even for more severe conditions. Of course, no such natural treatments should be taken without consulting a doctor.

Tags: nature, science


About the Author

I am the senior editor for SciNotions web magazine. In the past, I have also worked in various projects involving science, music, technology and gadgets.



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