Are Herbal Medicine Products Effective?

The therapeutic properties of certain plants have been validated by medical research which thus confirms traditional practices. Products based on these plants are therefore included in the list of remedies worthy of interest to supplement or provide an alternative to so-called “classic” drug treatments.

Herbal Medicine Products: Sometimes Proven Effectiveness

One might ask, “Is “hua Laksiam” really effective (ฮั้วลักเซียมดีจริงไหม, which is the term in Thai).” Sometimes, it happens that the information available on a plant mention studies done in the laboratory, in cultured cells or animals (most often rats or mice).

Done well, these studies can provide valuable information justifying testing in humans. But a positive result in rats does not indicate any possible effects in humans. In addition, a substance devoid of toxicity in animals may prove to be toxic to humans, as is regularly observed in the development of drugs.

The clinical studies carried out according to certain criteria of the method are the only way to prove in a certain way, the therapeutic effectiveness of a substance. Unfortunately, to be reliable, a clinical study must meet certain criteria, and this is rarely the case for those that have evaluated plants. Indeed, to be considered of quality, a study must be:

  • Randomized, i.e. comparing two groups of people with similar characteristics,
  • Controlled, i.e. comparing a group that received the substance studied to a group that took a placebo (a substance without therapeutic activity),
  • Of sufficient size so that the differences observed between the two groups are not due to chance.

Herbal Medicine: A Complementary Approach

Rather than opposing so-called classic drugs to phytotherapy, it is more interesting to consider their complementarity. The supporters of a reasoned phytotherapy reserve the use of synthetic drugs, whose action is rapid and powerful, for the treatment of acute diseases. Then, in the long term, they prefer the more global action of plants to avoid relapses.

Phytotherapists know the effectiveness of medicinal plants and their limits. None will risk treating an acute bacterial disease without antibiotics, nor a serious chronic disease with herbal remedies alone.