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YESTERDAY AND TODAY OF THE MEDICINAL PLANTS

Through the centuries, different civilizations have used the plants with healing aims. The progressive knowledge and the recovered ecological value have transformed them into a firm support of the traditional medicine.

The first herbalist´s are dated on the time of the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Fenicians and they are a knowledge summary of the this time about the healing properties of the plants.

The History of the Phitotherapy begins this way. From the year 3.000 before C. until our days, there are numerous references and writings such as the famous Egyptian papyrus of Ebers, written during the XVIII Tebas dynasty (1.550 a.C.) containing numerous medical preparations on the basis of vegetables.

Homero, in one of his works, praises the immense wealth of the plants of Egypt. In one of their stories he relates how Helena pours in a bowl a stimulating juice that she gives to Telémaco as a drink, saddened by her father's memories. It describes the drug in such a way that it is easy to identify it with the juice of the poppy, the plant from wich the opium is obtained.

The ""beer sediment" or mud of beer, was utilized by the Egyptian doctors in the treatment of numerous illnesses. It were used as vehicle to amalgamate the powdered plants that should be taken, since the Egyptian floor it was rich in aromatic and medicinal plants. This Egyptian silt would not take too long in being used as "yeast of beer" for infinity of peoples, to treat the digestive disorders and as a depurative.

With the arrival of the Roman Empire a series of brilliant doctors arise, among those stands out Celso, Andrómaco, Escribonio, Plinio and the better one known among the specialists of the medicinal plants: Dioscórides. Doctor and surgeon during the mandate of Nerón (50-75) it is said that it was the founder of the medical matter, and the most excellent among those authors that wrote on botany, since during eighteen centuries their work served as basis for all those interested in the study of the Medicinal Botany.

In 1498 was printed the first edition of Pharmacopeia and the Botany, which had been till the present, the doctors, druggists and quac doctors exclusive patrimony, it begins to be studied in a rational way, helped by the engravings in wood of the studied plants.

Among others curious data it is known, for example that Cleopatra used bearded aloe to increase her beauty, and today this plant has been revealed as the appropriate treatment to the burns for radiation.

The first great book about the medicinal properties of the plants was "Of medical matter", in the year 50 a.C. and that still today being consulted. Later on in the XI century, the monasteries took the relief, becoming big botanical experts.

The preparation of oils, syrups and ointments based on medicinal plants, it was during the whole Half Age the cornerstone of the universal pharmacopeia.

In the Renaissance, alchimists, astrologers and physicians knew and they consumed hallucinogenic plants. In Giambattista Della Porta work, written in the 1578, he already relates the form to prepare and to administer the psyche modifier drugs. It begins to take form the idea that that pléyade of geniuses that revolutionized the world: Lutero, Cardano, Copernicus, Della Porta, they knew plants able to stimulate the mind.

It was the XVIII century when in Spain begins the commercialization of the medicinal plants, being these the only remedies. At the end of the century XIX and principles of the XX century, due to the great advance of the science begin to isolate and to synthesize in the Laboratory the different active principles, arising synthesis medicines then, in detriment of the natural remedies.

The synthetic medicines are very useful in cases of urgencies or when a certain quantity of active principle is required in a certain moment, but they present great quantity of adverse effects that can be harmful in occasions, for that becoming to use natural remedies, for its high tolerance, without secondary effects, its mechanism of widespread action and their ways of easy and sure administration.

In spite of the centuries of tradition, the Phitoterapy - of the Greek "phyton" (planta)-0 treatment of the illnesses by fresh, dry plants or their extracts - it has evolve and it has won prestige and effectiveness, mainly in the last times, becoming more and more close to the norms and uses demanded by the modern medicine.

As a result of it, at the present we have a better knowledge of the medicinal properties they possessed, its number has been increased, they have been figured out scientifically the secrets of its active principles and its properties have been described with more precision. contraindications and secondary effects, what has redounded in a most correct systematization of its use and dosage.

Consequence of the great information on the therapeutic potential of the vegetable kingdom, the investigation of new preparations has been developed with the help of plants, in those that the selection of its ingredients is carried out in laboratories..

This has been the birth of the new Phitoterapy in which the preparation and validation of the formulations based on diverse vegetable species is carried out by specialized professionals, able to satisfy the necessities claimed by the user of the Phitoterapy in important aspects as the prevention and the health.

The 25 percent of the traditional medications contains substances of vegetable origin, and the Phitomedicines are medications elaborated exclusively with active principles of vegetable origin.

These principles are vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, microelements and specific healing agents that help to the body in their fight against the infection. The grasses are used a lot to alleviate the illness and to prevent from their returns. They detoxicate the organism and it support the immunologic system, helping the body to maintain the balance.

To indicate that since the moment in which begin the industrial manufacture of products on basis of medicinal plants under pharmaceutic formulas different from the traditional ones, as capsules and tablets, it increases the therapeutic use of plants coming from outside of Europe, and that the medicinal plants acquire consideration of medications, it becomes necessary a Guarantee of Quality.

This Guarantee of Quality implies the one that cultivates it, gathers, dry and it stores, including as well the supplier-distributor?importer, up to the maker ( partially or totally) of products based on medicinal plants.

 

ORGANIC PURIFICATION

The concept of organic purification goes very close to that of drainage. That is to say, an elimination by the organism of the toxic substances accumulated by the excess of production of the same ones, or due to a failure in the elimination mechanisms.

Thus, when valuing a complete program of organic purification besides including feeding aspects, contribution of nutritious (vitamins, minerals, coenzima, free anti-radicals?) it is necessary to keep in mind the depurative phitoterapy.

The effectiveness of some medicinal plants that exercise in our organism an depurative effect, detoxicant and mainly at digestive level it is very well known by the specialists in Natural Medicine that advise their use, coinciding with the seasonal changes.

A good time is the autumn when there is an important variety of depurative foods as fruits, vegetables and our body feels the effect of a possible altered dietary habits. Even an excess of solar exposing that cause of cutaneous dehydration and a free radicals accumulation.

There is a great variety of medicinal plants that act mainly in the digestive system: stimulant plants of the digestive secretions as the gentian, hop, clover of water, bardana, chicory, sacred thistle? Others favour the digestion for the presence of useful enzymes in the process of decomposition of the foods and its later assimilation, as the papaya (cárica papaya) that contains papaína and the pineapple (pineapple comosus) that contains bromelina, to mention some.

Our body is a perfect biological machine in which each organ has a certain function. It happens that sometimes the erroneous nutritious habits, the lack of time, or simply the disinformation, it can originate an state of organic intoxication and to end in illnesses.

For it, it is from time to time convenient to carry out a desintoxicación process by means of more specially reduced diets in calories and foods that favor this organic purification.

 

SELECTION AND GATHERING

From the appropriate selection of the plant their effectiveness will depend to treat any ailment illness. It is necessary to keep in mind if the plant is sick, without vitality or if she has parasites; to check if the parts of their organs are complete and healthy, as well as that the medicinal plants are not neither mature, neither very young.

Evidently, to gather a plant it is necessary a basic knowledge of their state and of the organ that interests us. It should be controlled, always trying not to eliminate any bush, indispensable condition for the conservation of the plant from the ecological point of view.

The spring and the autumn are the best times for derooting the plants. In spring because the plant even does not sprout the shaft and all the properties are located in the root. In autumn it happens a similar process, the plant it has finished their cycle of growth, floración and reproduction and when dying they also pick up concentrated in the root their active principles.

Another important consideration is the hour of the gathering. It is preferable the morning, before the noon, and always a sunny day. In the morning, very early, the humidity that keeps the dew in the plant is inadvisable for its conservation; too much water could rot the plant when drying. Besides that the plant at that hour usually has the flowers fallen as in lethargy state, and its potential properties are not to 100 percent.

To pick up a medicinal plant is not easy neither simple task. It is not to go to the mount and to raze the first bush that we find. We should continue, because, a series of steps to obtain the maximum of properties.

If he/she was also carried out correctly, with respect toward the nature, it would not be necessary that laws existed prohibiting to pick up medicinal plants of our forests, since their survival would not be damaged.

 

MAYTE SUAREZ SANTOS.
Journalist specialized in Medicine

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  • FONT I QUER P. You plant Medicinal. Ed. Work. Barcelona 1978
  • It guides Practice of the Medicinal Plants and the Health. Editors S.A. Barcelona 1983
  • HERNÁNDEZ M., GRANDSON A. You register technical, Medicinal Plants. Ed. Univ. Navarrese
  • PAHLOV M. The great Book of the Medicinal Plants. Ed. Everest. León 1979
  • POLETTI A. You plant and Medicinal Flowers. Ed. Parramón. Barcelona 1979
 
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