As early as the 6th to 9th century’s people were passing information and writing about the uses of plants, from the 1600s as the written word became more common place through an increase in scholars and eventually printing, records became more readily available. Herbal medicines were gradually updated from the original ideas that had been around for centuries, with an explosion of new ideas from the 17C onwards that has been responsible for the creation of the numerous numbers of herbal remedies that are in existence today. In China and India medical treatments based on extracts from plants are thought to be very ancient, these original writings deal with the healing rather than the plants. The information about herbal medicine was vast and spread throughout hundreds of tribes.
To understand how the various plants contributed to the ailments and symptoms that they were treating, the relationship between the plant and the effects on a particular ailment had to be established, once this was done they had to now decide how to identify them. Up to the late 1600s plants and their Agen Ceme leaves were simply described, gradually parts of the flowers began to get names, later on plants became more distinguished, which led to them been given Latin names, which were then translated and resulted in the situation we have today, where most plants have two names the Latin name and the English translation.
In the late 1700s it was the flowers, petals and fruit which classified the plant, the knowledge of how a plant came to be and the understanding of each part and its medicinal properties were recorded in a textbook, this book grouped into species and classified plants from all over the world, the groups of species have been constantly updated and changed to give us the varieties of species that we have today.
As the advent of travel between countries became more widespread and people started to travel they were now looking to bring back plants that they could grow and use themselves. Travellers began to learn from the native people as they passed on their knowledge of plants and their association with remedies from other countries, very soon new methods of treating common ailments became known.
In the USA the discovery and the use of these medicinal plants reached a high in the late 1800, explorers were sent out to compile new information on plants that they could use for medicinal purposes, in medical journals new plants were reported nearly every week and doctors began to learn from these and came to rely on them instead of using some of the few available and often dubious treatments.
In the early 1900 things began to change and the dependency on herbal medicine was reduced as the new synthetic drugs came into use, the medical profession started to switch their allegiance to the new drugs instead, however gradually both the medical profession and the people they were treating found the synthetic drugs had side effects and in the 1970s herbal medicines started to take the forefront once more as the drugs that were being prescribed began to get more expensive and less effective, the side effects could also be very disturbing and could not be ignored, so people once again started to look at herbal medicine in a new light and began to get a better knowledge of how the medicinal plants and herbs worked and what alternative herbal medicine could do for them. This has lead to a sort of mini revolution as today more and more companies are becoming involved in the research, manufacture and promotion of alternative medicine.
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