Throughout the centuries, humans have developed their knowledge and mastery of the extraordinary virtues concealed in plants. For thousands of years, the only medication available to humans was Phytotherapy.. Its history is linked to that of Humanity, because every culture on all continents, has always counted on the curative effects of plants to care for and heal people. And it is not ready to stop!
A Recognized Science
More than 800,000 plant species grow on the surface of the Earth, of which 250,000 are known. Among these, the WHO has listed more than 22,000 medicinal plants used in traditional medicine, but only a few hundred are currently used. Approximately 1,200 plants are registered with the French Pharmacopeia. They all have a recognized pharmacological activity and constitute a reservoir of raw materials for half of conventional pharmaceuticals.For example, Digitalin remains irreplaceable in the field of heart tonics. It is extracted from Digitalis purpurea or Digitalis lanata. Its properties were discovered by an English physician and botanist. Willow bark which contains salicylin, is the ancestor of our aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid). Alkaloids of periwinkle are used in the composition of several cancer medications, and many more examples can be named.
A Few Dates in the History of Phytotherapy
- 3000 BCE: engraved clay tablets from this period count 250 species of plants.
- 1500 BCE: Egyptian papyruses name hundreds of plants. Pharaonic civilization had access to advanced medicine based on medicinal plants.
- 400 BCE: Hippocrates, "founder of medicine" writes a treatise on 250 medicinal plants.
- XVI ° siècle : Paracelse, médecin alchimiste suisse, pose la notion de principe actif.
- 1980: phytotherapy is officially recognized by the French Ministry of Health as a field of medicine in its own right.
- 1986: the French Minister of Health proposes marketing regulations for plant-based preparations.
Thanks to phytochemists, information about the most useful species is known: the best picking dates, the most favorable vegetation conditions: soil (clay or sand), exposure (shade or sun), climate (dry or humid), and so on. We also know what organ, root, stem, leaf, flower or fruit is most active. In phytotherapy, the selected plants are rigorously checked. They undergo a systematic analysis of bacteriology, pesticides and radioactivity, assuring respect for everyone's health.
The plant contains all the complexity of a living being within itself. It is the seat of continuous interactions between a multitude of active ingredients that act in synergy, which explains their effectiveness and their lack of side effects.