Botanical, or herbal, medicine is one of the oldest forms of medicine known to man. In ancient times healers and doctors used local plants to treat their patients. In modern times, a large majority of pharmaceutical drugs are derived from an herb or plant or a synthetic analog has been made of a plant chemical.
A plant exists in nature with healing, protective and toxic properties. This means that plants are powerful medicines, but even though they are "natural" they do have the potential to do harm. Fortunately, having the full complement of chemical compounds usually prevents toxic overdosing, as the plants protective constituents will usually cause vomiting before a harmful dose of the plant can be consumed. This protective mechanism is lost once the plant has been purified to a pharmaceutical form, leading to the side effects and toxicity that are associated with many of today's drugs.
Naturopathic Doctors can use herbs medicinally, as a safer alternative to drugs; nutritionally, as herbs are often high in certain nutrients; or, more generally as supportive tonics.
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