Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Herbal Medicines

  • Timothy Whittaker
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_457-2



Herbal medicine is the use of plants to treat human illnesses and debility. Parts used can be roots, bark, flowers, seed, leaves, or sometimes total aerial parts.


Until the early twentieth century, materials required for herbal medicine were collected in the countryside, dried by hanging in a warm room, and cut into small pieces to facilitate infusion in hot water, the resulting liquor being consumed as a dose. The mid-twentieth century saw the introduction of fluid extracts where 1 ml of finished liquid preparation represented 1 g of the starting material (dried herb). The industrial process to make these incurred considerable use of heat, very deleterious to fragile plant chemistry via hydrolysis, and/or oxidation. The last quarter of the century saw a substantial swing to the use of tinctures, aqueous-alcoholic preparations, made by steeping the dried herb in the liquor for a few weeks, cold, and pressing the residue to separate...


Herbal Medicine Panax Ginseng Hypericum Perforatum Liquid Preparation Warm Room 
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References and Further Readings

  1. Mills, S. Y. (1993). The essential book of herbal medicine. London: Penguin Arkana.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The International Register of Herbalists & HomeopathsCinderfordUK