The term Natural remedy refers to the ancient tradition of ‘Herbalism’. It means treatment of disease using materials of natural origin. This existed even about 60000 years ago when Neanderthal man used herbal preparations to cure animal and insect bites, and injuries. As civilizations came about, each society or civilization started practicing separate forms of Herbalism. This depended on the locally available materials and individual cultures. Thus, different forms of medicine like Chinese, Indian and Greek originated. During the 1400s, in the European countries, a spirit of curiosity prevailed as to ‘How’ and ‘Why’ things worked. This saw the birth of Allopathy or modern medicine as we know it today.
Both ’Natural remedies’ and Allopathy have their own basis and principles. Natural remedies use whole herbs or herbal extracts in different forms along with some ingredients of animal or mineral origin. Allopathy on the other hand uses naturally or synthetically engineered molecules. The treatment using natural remedies is holistic, that is, treating the individual as a whole and not any symptom or indication. This system believes that a disease is not diagnosed by symptoms alone but also on the mental and spiritual health of the patient. In Modern medicine or Allopathy, treatment is based on symptoms, and is based on‘cause and effect’. It focuses on what physical being causes the ailment and what can be done to cure it. The philosophy behind natural remedies is that Nature has all the ingredients to treat the disease. Nature includes the patient’s own body. Allopathy believes in specifically targeting the disease causing organisms.
In a way, both systems have one basic role, treatment of ailments and keeping the body and mind well. So, a synergy between the two cannot be ruled out. The exchange of philosophies can lead to both systems co-existing and prove a double boon to patients. A certain amount of synergy already exists between the two systems.
Allopathy or modern system of medicine has many examples of plant products used successfully in their natural form or synthetic form. Here are a few examples.
* Aspirin or Acetyl Salicylic Acid was originally discovered in the bark of the white willow tree (Salix Alba). The chemical was later synthesized.
* The chemicals Digoxin and Digitoxin are extracted from the plant Digitalis. This is used in the treatment of arrhythmia.
* Alkaloids like Reserpine from the plant Rauwolfia Serpentina are used in hypertensive drugs.
Modern medicine has the advantage of extensive research that backs it. Natural remedies lack this. The myth that any natural remedy is free from side effects should be broken. All drugs included as natural should be proven to perform their specific actions and researched for side effects. The lack of rules and guidelines make it very easy to market and sell spurious drugs in the name of ‘Natural remedies’. Once there is proper scientific evidence and backing, natural remedies can be used in synergy with allopathic drugs. Many countries are striving to achieve this by having guidelines for the release of natural drugs. This will increase the credibility of the drugs.
Once the above steps are taken, then maybe natural medicines and allopathic drugs can be used to compliment each other. An allopathic drug that provides symptomatic relief can be given along with a natural remedy intended for the root cause of the disease. For example, in the treatment of a bronchial problem, allopathic drugs can be given to reduce the symptoms of wheezing, and a natural remedy can be given to treat the bronchitis itself. Another example could be about using a natural remedy to reduce the side effects of an allopathic drug, leading to comparatively less stress on the body. These are just superficial examples as it can never be as simple as prescribing two drugs. It is definitely possible to achieve a synergy with the world becoming one global entity and the intermingling of cultures and knowledge from different parts of the world. This will hopefully percolate down to scientific medical research as well.
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Hemamalini says, "I am a home maker and a mom trying to get back on the career track. This time I want to do something I nurse a passion for. Interested in plants big time. One of the few who enjoyed plant taxonomy back in college while others dreaded the subject. Want to do my bit for the environment."
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