How effective are herbs clinically speaking?

Everyone knows the traditional practice of herbal medicine, in a very advanced form, has existed for nearly 2000 years, especially in places like China, India, and others. Sadly herbal medicine has been supplanted in the 20th century by modern pharmaceuticals, and herbs have been relegated by many to folk and natural medicine practice, a second-rate curiosity to more powerful drugs.

But biochemical research into herbs shows a different picture. Herbal medicines can be remarkably potent, and have shown to have a wide variety of functions and activities that no drug has been able to produce. What are some of these effects? Let's look at some highlights:

  • Herbs like Ginseng, Cordyceps, Gynostemma, Goji berries, and many others have shown remarkable effects on modulating the activity of mitochondria and ATP production, working with the very source of energy and metabolism in the body.

  • Countless herbs and extracts, including Andrographis, Houttuynia, Sophora, Lonicera, Scutellaria, and many others have shown some of the strongest anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal effects in a natural compound, and have been shown to be effective in treating SARS, pneumonia, and different strains of influenza.

  • Many herbs display a wide range of immune modulating effects, and have been tested on a wide variety of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. One study showed that Boswellia Serrata, Indian Frankincense, possessed pentacyclic terpenoid compounds that showed and efficacy rate of 92% in Crohn's Disease, and 89% in Ulcerative Colitis.

  • Certain botanicals have been shown to normalize liver and digestive function, including decreasing liver damage from toxicity, increasing pancreatic enzymes, and increased absorption of nutrients from the small intestine. A variety of herbs can up-regulate or down-regulate gastric motility and activity.

  • A number of well known adaptogenic herbs, like Ginseng, Ashwaganda, Eleuthero, and others influence the activity of the neuroendocrine system, including the hypothalamus, thyroid, adrenal, and gonadal glands - the basic hormonal control system that governs the entire body.

As we can see, herbal medicines can powerfully regulate nearly every system of the body, especially when given in the right combination and in the right dose. Oftentimes they are able to influence these systems in a way that drug therapy is unable to do, or cannot do without significant or severe side effects, making them an important and indispensable part of health care.

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