What is Phytotherapy?
Phytotherapy is derived from the word 'phyto', which means 'plant' in Greek. Phytotherapy applies scientific research and professional standards to the ancient practice of herbal medicine. Specific plants and herbs are selected to stimulate or strengthen normal functions of the body. Medicinal plants in the form of teas, tablets, tictures ointments and oils are used.
What is the best way to use plants to benefit from their medicinal value?
Some of the active constituents in plants are water soluble and others are soluble in alcohol or oil. Some plants can be used fresh in salads or dried as a tea. In other instances the fresh or dried plant can be steeped in alcohol to make a tincture. It can also be distilled to make a hydrosol or an essential oil. Calendula officinalis
or more commonly known as Marigolds is a good example. The fresh petals can safely be used in food to enhance colour and taste e.g. in egg dishes or salads. The dried petals can be used as a tea which may help to enhance the function of the immune system. As a tincture, Calendula
is used therapeutically for swollen lymph glands and to relieve swelling.
Why do some plants have medicinal properties and other plants not?
Plants contain an abundance of different active constituents called phyto chemicals. These constituents depend on the type of plant and plant family it belongs to. Some constituents are needed for the plant to survive, to protect it against predators and to thrive and it is these constituents which have medicinal properties.