Herbal remedies are available everywhere and manufacturers of these products are numerous. The products can range from capsules containing a single type of herb to “specialty formulas” such as those marketed for “menopause symptoms” or “stress relief” which often contain many different herbs in a single capsule. Determining which of these to take and how much has become a challenge for many consumers.

Dietary Supplements and Herbs

These treatments use ingredients found in nature. Examples of herbs include ginseng, ginkgo and echinacea, while examples of other dietary supplements include selenium, glucosamine and SAMe.

Many of today’s conventional medicines began as folk medicines, including digoxin, which treats congestive heart failure, and quinine, which treats malaria. Many people trust in herbal medicine because of its long history, and others like its use of “natural” products. Remember, though, that natural doesn’t mean that herbs can’t hurt you.

The Beginnings of Aromatherapy

Some sources trace the history of aromatherapy back to the Greeks. In the 10th century, the Arabs invented a process of distillation that allowed for more efficient extraction of the essential oils from plants, and for centuries, cultures from every part of the globe have inhaled aromas, drunk potions, and worn aromatic amulets as healing aids and to protect them from harm.

By extracting the essential oils from plants and herbs, aromatherapy has been, and continues to be, used to address a wide range of physical and emotional ailments, from headaches to herpes, from dry skin to acne, and from arthritis to asthma.

In modern times, France and England have led the attempt to reintroduce many ancient remedies to the world in the early 1900s, and to help aromatherapy gain greater acceptance in the traditional medical community. France still leads the world in rediscovering modern uses for ancient remedies, and many French doctors routinely prescribe aromatic remedies for their patients. That practice is reinforced by the fact that French pharmacies stock a wide variety of essential oils, and insurance companies are willing to pay for treatments involving ancient healing methods.

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