The History of Herbs and the Resurgence of Phytotherapy
Did you know when the medicines we now prescribe in hospitals were first discovered and manufactured? The compound salicin was first discovered in 1830 in a plant called Meadowsweet. After years of research revolving around extraction and synthesis, Aspirin was finally invented in 1899. With that, the Western medicine that we use today was born.
In Ancient Egypt (dated around 1700 BC), cultivation records of over 700 kinds of herbs have already been found. In Ayurveda, India, it is said that phytotherapy has been performed since about 3000 BC. Not long after, Hippocrates, said to be the father of medicine, prescribed 400 kinds of herbs for the field of medicine for the first time, and the disciples that followed in his footsteps continued to make various prescriptions based on plant research and herbs up until the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, experts specialising in herbs called herbalists were widespread and active. These herbalists eventually developed a system of herbal medicine similar to what we have today.
Concurrently, due to various plagues and spread of pests, antibiotics were discovered in Western medicine during the 20th century, said to be the golden era of pharmacy, and eventually became the modern medicine of today. However, since the latter half of the 20th century, there was a decline in infectious diseases and problems related to medicine itself such as phytotoxicity and side effects arose. However, the number of diseases that cannot be completely cured by medicine such as lifestyle-related diseases and stress-related diseases are increasing, giving us good reason to reconsider how we can maintain our health and well-being.
In recent years, traditional medicines such as natural remedies are again being reconsidered and we have entered the era of integrative medicine, a fusion of Western medicine and alternative medicine, with a long history spanning over thousands of years.