Essentially, herbal medicines are an important component of modern health care; if effective, they may promote autonomy in that there are numerous diverse products allowing patients to choose one that meets their specific needs and preferences. Modern herbal medicines are registered by the government regulator in the UK and other European Member States for a wide range of conditions that are suitable for self-medication.
However, herbal medicines are already in widespread use, are often used in combination, and are drawn from plant sources with their own variability in species, growing conditions and biologically active constituents.
Herbal medicines are one type of dietary supplement. In the European Union (EU), herbal medicines are now regulated under the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products. They are in widespread use and although many believe herbal medicines are safe, they are often used in combination and are drawn from plant sources with their own variability in species, growing conditions, and biologically active constituents.
Traditional herbal medicines are naturally occurring, plant-derived substances with minimal or no industrial processing that have been used to treat illness within local or regional healing practices. Chinese herbal medicines are prescribed either singly or made into formulae which take into account the individual therapeutic action of each herb and well as the effects when combined together. It is tempting to speculate that several of the effects observed with these herbal medicines are mediated by their antioxidant activity.