Phitotherapy and Naturopathy
Phytotherapy and Naturopathy
What is phytotherapy?
Phytotherapy is the use of plants or herbs to manage health conditions. It also refers to substances that come from plants or herbs. Medicinal plants and herbs are a form of complementary medicine. These are therapies that you can receive alongside traditional Western medicine.
“Phytopharmaceuticals,” “phytomedicines,” herbal medicines and botanicals are other terms often used for plant- or herb-based medicines. Phytomedicines are sold in the U.S. over the counter as dietary supplements. As such, they have not undergone rigorous scientific studies of effectiveness, safety or quality. In some other countries, particularly in Europe, phytomedicines are more regulated and are available by prescription.
You should never take phytomedicines without talking to your healthcare provider first.
What does phytotherapy treat?
Phytotherapies have been historically used by people to treat a wide range of acute or chronic health conditions. These may include anything from musculoskeletal pain to memory loss.
There aren’t many studies about the effectiveness of phytotherapy. But researchers are looking into the risks and benefits of phytotherapies. They’re trying to find out how phytomedicines might help disease prevention and symptom management.
It’s also important to note that phytomedicines aren’t closely regulated in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t consider phytomedicines to be drugs. Instead, the FDA considers them a type of food. So there aren’t strict safety or quality regulations about dosages or concentrations of ingredients in phytomedicines.
How do phytotherapies work?
Phytotherapies may affect your body’s physiology in different ways. Many non-human studies have tried to understand possible mechanisms by which phytotherapies affect people. Some may impact brain chemistry, the immune system and appetite.
Another way that phytotherapies may work is by preventing damage to your cells. That damage can lead to major diseases, such as cancer and dementia. Researchers are studying how certain chemicals in plants, called phytochemicals, may be able slow or prevent this damage from happening.