According to the Frontiers in Pharmacology, there are approximately 80% of people worldwide who use herbal medicine as part of their main source of healthcare. This is most commonly used in developing countries, however, there are people who use them frequently in the UK instead of traditional medicine, which would usually be prescribed or be bought over the counter.
Speaking to staff at the Herbal Inn, a store located in London dedicated to herbal medicine and therapies such as acupuncture, they believe that the use of herbal remedies as a way to take care of your health has become very popular. Their store has had more customers in the past year than in the past decade.
But what are natural remedies?
According to the research article ‘Herbal medicine: yesterday, today and tomorrow’ posted on Omics Online, natural remedies “refers to the use of plant parts such as seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flower for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.”
The uses of these are still used by many cultures, even after the development of medicine because these remedies have been passed down through generations, and, for many, are well-trusted and efficient methods of ways to treat problems a person is having.Farrah owns a beauty shop in London, and uses herbal remedies to beautify herself regularly. She usually uses natural products, which can be bought in almost every store to give her a nice, and natural glow. She prefers this, over using artificial methods, and products which may contain chemicals because “it’s important for me to know what I’m putting on my face, and I’d rather use products many of the women in my family used to use and taught me about, rather than use products with potential side effects.”
For many, the use of herbal and natural remedies is because people believe there are not many if any at all, side effects which they might cause. This is the belief of the shop owner Beauty by Jag who said, “I use natural remedies because they work for me. They are very popular in some cultures because many of the natural remedies which we use do not have any side effects, so of course, they are better.”
However, there is not much research into many herbal supplements which can be bought easily and could potentially have very negative effects on a person’s health. But many opt to make their own remedies in the comfort of their own homes.
Dr Fahad, who is a qualified NHS doctor has just opened up a walk-in clinic which specialises in herbal and homoeopathic treatments. She spoke about the use of alternative medicines and their growing popularity. “Before using any medication, it is important to receive a consultation from a qualified person to help you with any issues you are facing. That way we can know what the right treatment is for you. Sometimes, it is better to use prescription medicine and sometimes it is convenient for a person to use herbal medicine. It all depends on the person and the case, it isn’t about one or the other,” she said.
It might be a cultural thing, but growing up, I saw many of my family members mixing blends of different kinds of herbs and a whole lot of spices together for beauty reasons, health reasons, and even mental and emotional reasons.
It could just be something many Asian communities do. While it may have been passed down through generations, many may have started using all these natural ways of looking after themselves due to not having access to medicine which is prescribed.For example, several of my family members eat two cloves a day because it is believed that doing so can help with digestive problems, and even prevent cancer. But can two cloves a day really keep the doctor away? Well, according to research done in Pakistan, the researchers at the University of Karachi found that consuming cloves can increase insulin production.
Not only this, but many people focus on prevention rather than cure, so a lot of people from south Asian backgrounds in particular use natural yoghurt, turmeric, tukmuria seeds in milk and a whole lot more for their healing properties.
When I first got my period, I remember going through the most immense pain I have felt in my life. My mum immediately suggested I eat fennel seeds (known as sonf in Urdu) because it will “relieve your stomach pain.” I wasn’t convinced at first, but to my amazement, it actually worked. It didn’t taste the best, but after years of eating it, I’ve gotten used to the sweet, yet anise-like, taste. All you have to do is chew on the fennel seeds and let the juice come out and swallow them. I usually eat many spoons-full throughout the first day of my period because it works, my period pain lessens after some time and then it’s gone.
Naseem Akhtar, who uses natural ingredients to take care of her health says that she’s been using ancient Asian methods to take care of herself till this day, like her ancestors used to.
“I believe using natural remedies saves lives! I know have changed mine for the better. I just feel much better about myself, and my health.”
“Using herbal medicines cannot always be trusted because even they can contain harmful ingredients. Just because it says the word ‘herbal’ doesn’t mean it is one-hundred per cent natural. Using prescription drugs can have side effects, which is why I prefer to stay away from them and only take them when necessary, like if I have got a really serious health problem,” Naseem toild us.
“Otherwise, I make my own remedies at home using ingredients you can buy from a grocery store. I believe using natural remedies saves lives! I know have changed mine for the better. I just feel much better about myself, and my health.”
One of my favourite ingredients to use is turmeric. Turmeric has so many amazing properties, and one of them includes lightening any hyper-pigmentation I have. When many hear the word turmeric, they think of it as something which goes into cooking food. But it can also be used as an ingredient, originating from ancient Asian methods, to help brighten skin, give you a natural glow and improve your overall complexion.
Junaid Shah uses turmeric mixed with milk to heal his stomach from the problems he faces. However, he says that too much of anything can make you ill, so it is important to use natural remedies in moderation because “you should only use remedies when you need them, not daily for unnecessary reasons otherwise your body may react in a horrible way.” Junaid told me he once overused turmeric on his face, to get rid of dark circles and ended up staining it yellow.
When speaking to those who use natural remedies frequently, and not just for a small amount of time as you would with prescribed medicine, many said that they prefer using natural remedies, because they perceive them as having many benefits, and zero side-effects.On the BBC series, The Doctor who gave up Drugs, Dr Chris van Tulleken stopped patients’ prescription pills, after reporting that drug use is rising, and the UK has become very reliant on pills.
Iman, who specialises in herbal medicine regularly holds workshops to teach people how to make their own. He also has his own online group, in which he shares medicine tips. He believes that people are now favouring herbal medicines, especially for use in the long-term because they work, and have not had any negative impact on its user. Which he says is “far better than using prescription drugs which can cause problems and can lead to other long-term issues further in your life.”
Iman does, however, understand that it is necessary to eat prescription medications for certain problems, such as antibiotics for an abscess in your mouth. However, it isn’t something he would advise a person to use for the long-term, and if a health problem can be solved using herbal remedies, he would always recommend it first and foremost.
There seem to be natural remedies for everything, pain in your tooth? use a clove or clove paste. Have a stomach issue? eat fennel seeds or have turmeric or the dozens of other treatments there are for stomach issues. Have digestion problems? have some lemon with honey.
There various options now for those who are opting to use alternative methods to better their health, that prescription drugs may something that people will soon learn not to be so reliant on.