Herbalism - Herbology - Herbal Medicine
The study and practice of using plant material for the purpose of food, medicine, or health. They may be flowers, plants, shrubs, trees, moss, lichen, fern, algae, seaweed or fungus. The plant may be used in its entirety or with specific parts being used. In each culture or medical system there are different types of herbal practitioners: professional and lay herbalists, plant gatherers, and medicine makers.
Herbal medicines may be presented in many forms including fresh, dried, whole, or chopped. Herbs may be prepared as infusions when an herb is soaked in a liquid, or decocted, which is when an herb is simmered in water over low heat for a certain period of time. Some examples of infusion are chamomile or peppermint, using flowers, leaves and powdered herbs. For decocting, examples may be rose hip, cinnamon bark, and licorice root consisting of fruits, seeds, bark, and roots. Fresh and dried herbs can be tinctured where herbs are kept in an alcohol or made into ace tracts where it is contained in a vinegar extract. They can be preserved as syrups such as glycerites in vegetable glycerin, or put in honey known as miels. Both of which have a sweet taste and the lack of alcohol being a more suitable choice for children. Powdered and freeze dried herbs can be found in bulk, tablets, troches similar to a lozenge, pastes, and capsules. Fluid and strong extracts being a stronger concentrate tend to work more rapidly finding a quicker result.
Non-oral herbal uses consist of creams, baths, oils, ointments, gels, distilled water, washes, poultices, compresses, snuffs, steams, inhaled smoke and aromatics volatile oils.
Many herbalists consider using the client's direct involvement in their own healing process and may use the client's intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual attention to the process as critical. All methods of these are delivered differently depending on the herbal traditions of that area.
Nature is not necessarily safe; special attention should be used when grading quality, deciding a dosage, realizing possible effects, and any interactions with herbal medications.
An example of herbal medicine is the use of medicinal mushrooms as a food and as a tea. Clinical, animal, and cellular research has shown mushrooms may be able to up-regulate aspects of the immune system. A notable mushroom used in Korean medicine is Phellinus linteus also known as Song-gen. This mushroom is known to prevent ailments as diverse as gastroenteric dysfunction, diarrhea, hemorrhage and cancers.