What you should know about Ocidental Phytotherapy

What you should know about Ocidental Phytotherapy
06/01/2015 Margarida Moreira

European and American medicinal traditions apply knowledge and use of medicinal plants (Phytopharmacognosy) to promote health, treat and prevent diseases. This knowledge was transmitted orally and through manuscripts that have been transmitted from generations to generations.

The western phytotherapy which features the oldest records is the Traditional Chinese Medicine, which related the medicinal properties of plants with different energies.

The pillar of Western phytotherapy is the pharmacognosy, which specifically includes the identification and extraction methodology, purification and application of plants with medicinal properties necessary for treatment. In certain situations scientists synthesized in the laboratory, in order to obtain greater control of production or to ensure a higher rate income / success.

The ocidental phytotherapy treatment can be performed with fresh or dried plants, extracts or supplemented simple but always obey the rules of formulations and concentrations. Especially when the lethal and therapeutic doses of active principles station very close. If the active constituents are very unstable or produce more side effects than desired treatment, then the option is to use products extracted from traditional processes.


The benefits depend on the disease to be treated, the drug and the symptom. It is noted than herbal products have a slower effect than pharmaceutical drugs.

The treatment is set to (severity) of the disease: some act slowly, and are cumulative, while others operate in a short period of time to treat acute diseases.

Industrial pharmaceuticals when compared to the medicinal plants, have more side effects, this occurs because the plants have relatively low concentrations of chemicals. This is one reason why there are increasing demand for herbal medicines, another reason is that are less expensive (when used in therapeutic doses).


Medicinal plants prepared as therapeutic doses are safe, but care must be taken to the specific counter-indications of the plant.

There are plants that are advised against for children, pregnant women and during breastfeeding. There are plants that are toxic and lethal, and it is important to control the exposure period to the active principles because there are plants with cumulative toxicity.

Recall that the essential oils are highly concentrated (the concentration ranges for the chemical constituents), whereby in general should not be ingested and for topical application should always be diluted in neutral oils.

As for industrial drugs, should seek a health care professional before self-medicating.


KRAPP, K. [et al.]. Manual de medicinas complementares. Barcelona; Loures; Porto: Oceano: Crerital: Nova Variante, [2004]. [VIII], Original title: The gale encyclopedia of alternative medicine

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