Herbal medicine dates back to ancient Chinese and Egyptian times due to the major use of plant-based materials for survival. There are findings on the first paper used by the ancient Chinese that describe the herbs they used for medicinal purposes. Even today, herbal medicine is used globally as an alternative to traditional western medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, which originated in ancient India, and traditional Chinese medicine, herbal remedies are used systematically and generally use the same herbs as other ancient people from different areas of the world. Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on healing the body as a whole, to promote long-term health and well-being. If someone had an extreme ailment or sickness, ancient herbalists considered the person to be out of balance either with mind, body, and spirit, or all of the above.
Later in history, scientists began to derive extracts from plants and chemically transform them into synthetic medicine. The reason that herbal remedies work so well depends on the area that the herbs are grown, as well as a few other factors dealing with the type of soil and what lives in the area. Herbal remedies are fundamentally therapeutic to whomever is given them, but with traditional western medicine coming into play, these herbal remedies are not as popular despite the strong healing effects they contain.
Despite the history behind herbal medicine, today they are classified as "dietary supplements" by the Food and Drug Administration because they contain, "dietary ingredients" that are taken by mouth. Most of these herbal medicines contain high amounts of antioxidants that rid the body of any toxins that may have entered through unhealthy dieting and habits. When used correctly, herbal medicines have more positive effects than negative, but one must be careful before ingesting such things without consulting a doctor, or a professional herbalist about possible allergies.
Herbal medicines are used to heal the body in a natural way without any harmful side affects. Asthma, flu, and even common colds are cured with herbal medicines because it puts ingredients into the body that the body can recognize, as opposed to detrimental chemicals that the body has never before been used to. For example, the herb ephedra was used in ancient Chinese medicine to relieve respiratory ailments. Today, ephedrine is used to treat much of the same thing, but is derived and transformed into a non-organic state to cure the same type of ailments and illnesses. A lot of people in the world today are turning to herbal remedies to rid their addiction of synthetic medicines for behavioral problems as well as health issues. St. John's Wort has become a popular alternative to Prozac, due to the non-addictive nature of the herb. These Ayurvedic and tradional Chinese medicines have come a longer way than "folk" medicine, (term for Western traditional medicine,) and are more advanced than any other type of medicine in the world today, with over a third of the United States itself turning to such remedies as herbal medicine.