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What Are the Pros and Cons of Phytotherapy?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

According to experts, there are both good and bad sides to phytotherapy, also known as herbal medicine, and its effectiveness can often depend on the context of use along with the particular herb in question. There are many plants that are well-known to have strong medicinal properties and this is generally well-accepted by scientists, who have often relied on plant-based-research to develop synthesized medicines. The main complaint about herbal treatments are in the areas of dosage, safety, and in the veracity of certain claims. People who favor the use of herbal medicine claim that it is gentler on the body than most modern medicinal approaches and may be more useful in the area of preventing sicknesses before they start.

Experts suggest that most, if not all, of the medicine people use was developed by researching the effects of plants on the human body. The biggest difference between direct plant therapy and the use of synthesized medicines is often in the area of dosing. Many herbal medications may have one chemical ingredient that has a major effect on the body, and the dosage may be very small so that it takes a fairly large amount to produce any noticeable effect. With synthesized medications, the chemicals with the greatest effect are amplified and purified, making it easier to deliver an effective dose. Additionally, since manufacturers of herbal remedies aren't usually as tightly regulated as other pharmaceutical companies, their isn't always as much control over the amount of the effective ingredient in the purchased products, leaving some consumers with concerns that there might be too much filler.


People who favor herbal medicine generally argue that this weaker dosing is actually an advantage. Many of them believe that overloading the body with strong purified medicines might be dangerous. Some also argue that the milder dosages allow for treating things in advance by using the remedies even when the person isn't sick, allowing for effective preventative therapy. In fact, for many phytotherapy experts, the main focus is to use herbs over the long-term to keep the bodies hormonal system in balance and thereby maintain good overall health.

One of the primary complaints of some scientists about phytotherapy is a concern regarding safety. Many of these herbal medicines have received some level of testing, but the testing processes aren't necessarily as well-regulated and there might not always be as much information available about the dangers. For example, many herbal medicines can have fairly strong effects on things like the circulatory system, and this can be dangerous for someone with a heart problem, or someone taking other medications with similar effects.

Phytotherapy experts often disagree with the notion that synthesized medicine is safer, arguing that most medications prescribed by doctors also have numerous well-known side effects. Many herbal experts acknowledge that testing is somewhat lacking, and there is a general consensus that it is better to check with a doctor first before starting any new herbal treatment. Some suggest that the best solution to these issues would be for scientists to invest more time and energy into studying the effectiveness of herbal drugs, which they suggest would lead to more cures and better overall results.

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