More and more people are opting to live the herbal life: moving away from chemicals and scientific medicines, and taking traditional herbs to do everything from losing weight to relieving pain. They are often remedies that have been used in communities for hundreds or even thousands of years, and have now been taken for sale worldwide because of the people’s claims about their powers.
The last few decades have seen an explosion in the popularity of herbs and alternative medicine in general, as people increasingly seek miracle cures that can help them when their doctor or regular pharmacy cannot. The connection to traditional communities also appeals to those who want to go back to a more spiritual, myth-based way of life, instead of testing everything in a laboratory. It is also often believed that using herbs instead of chemicals can avoid the potential side effects of putting lots of synthetic substances into the body.
Many people, however, say that herbal remedies are just a load of mumbo-jumbo, designed to sell gullible people some useless plants at premium prices. When the herbs do have some effect, it is put down to them being a placebo. This means that the act of taking the herb that makes you feel like you should feel better, and so you do, even if there was nothing in the herb itself to make that happen.
Most scientists, however, do not hold extreme opinions either for or against the herbal lifestyle, instead preferring to study each herb to see which are useless and which may actually have some benefit. This leads to the situation where many herbal shops stock herbs that have been proven to do nothing side-by-side with ones that do – a situation that is often criticised, with many calling for greater regulation of herbal medicines. Taking the wrong herbs can even be dangerous to some people, especially people who are already taking prescribed medicines.