The History of Plant Medicine

August 05, 2020 0 Comments

The History of Plant Medicine

In every area of the ancient world, including Rome, Egypt, China, and India, people discovered plants' healing properties and used them for medicine. Collectively, our knowledge of plant medicine has amassed over thousands of years.

Today in the United States, over half of the top 150 prescribed drugs contain plant-based compounds. Scientists continue to find new medical applications and new compounds in the natural world. In recent years, CBD and the minor cannabinoids have garnered increasing scientific attention for their spectrum of health applications from pain-relief to anti-cancer treatment.

The Medical Benefits of Herbals and Botanicals are Timeless

The oldest medicinal records date back to 5000–3000 BCE. Written by Sumerians on clay tablets, these and other ancient records demonstrate that herbals and botanicals have helped maintain and restore good health throughout human history.

Plants produce organic compounds to protect themselves from hungry animals, birds, and insects. Our ancestors had only their senses and observation of animal behavior to discover desirable plants. Today's scientists can isolate and test compounds. Even with the precious resources they offer, most plants have not yet been analyzed for their potential benefits.

The Move Towards Full-Spectrum

Many ancient cultures taught that plants to heal through their vital spirit. It was not just the plant, but the spirit of the plant as well.

Evidence shows hemp was cultivated in the ancient plateaus of Tibet and in Japan as far back as 10,000 years. The name Jampha comes from Tibet and means “loving kindness.”

In the west, scientists look for isolated compounds within plants for specific properties. They have operated more within a machine-based model that breaks plants down into non-living components.

As research continues into CBD and the minor cannabinoids, western science is grasping plant medicine's complexity. The human body is a complex and interconnected system, and plants operate in the same way. Full-spectrum CBD that includes natural cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids show better and more reliable health results than CBD isolate.

Cannabinoids also balance each other out. For example, CBD minimizes the adverse effects of THC.

Unlike making repairs on a machine, human wellness is not always reducible to parts. Likewise, the healing effects of plants interact with and add to each other.

Common Western Medications Made from Plants

Prescription medication can be made from both natural and synthetic sources. Plant-derived compounds have a long history of clinical use, better patient tolerance, and acceptance.

A few common plant-derived medications:

  •       Morphine
  •       Aspirin
  •       Codeine
  •       OxyContin
  •       Penicillin
  •       Artemisinin (anti-malaria)
  •       Myriocin (antibiotic)
  •       Digoxin (heart medication)

To see additional plant-based medications, published a list.

CBD and Plant Medicine

The human endocannabinoid system (ECS) stretches from head to toe. It has specific receptors that interact with cannabis compounds and some other molecules derived from plants.

For example, CBD activates CB2, the cannabinoid receptor associated with preventing inflammatory damage.  Celastrol, which comes from a Chinese herb that translates into "thunder god vine," also interacts with CB2 causing an anti-inflammatory effect.

Fruits and vegetables like colorful berries and carrots contain molecules that either interact or block the cannabinoid receptors. In humans, the ECS is an essential homeostatic system. It keeps us in balance and helps manage stress and maintain health.

Medical Benefits of CBD and Cannabinoids

Since the 2018 Farm Bill Act legalizing the cultivation of CBD hemp and production, the scientific community has discovered more and more of CBD's health benefits.

CBD and the cannabinoids reduce pain and inflammationlower anxiety, and offer relief from PTSD symptoms.

For patients recovering from heroin addiction, CBD significantly reduced both anxiety and cravings. CBD helps manage seizures for people with a rare and severe form of epilepsy.

The Cornucopia of our Natural World

Plants produce thousands of organic compounds and specialized molecules, many of which have health benefits. About 80 percent of the population worldwide depend on plants and plant extracts as primary healthcare sources.

Even with its long and rich history, plant medicine is at its nascent. New tools and research approaches, such as metabolic engineering and systems biology, can provide a depth of understanding previously unavailable anytime in history.

In the beginning, people's use of plants for medicine and healing was instinctive. Over recent centuries, we have de-emphasized the importance of the natural world. This resurgence in discoveries about CBD's remarkable healing properties and other plant compounds brings us full circle. Nature holds undiscovered treasures and can make our lives better in every way.

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