Traditional botanical medicine: an introduction

Am J Ther. Mar-Apr 2011;18(2):158-61. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0b013e31820e80df.


The role of traditional medicine in the well-being of mankind has certainly journeyed a long way. From an ancient era, in which knowledge was limited to a few traditional healers and dominated by the use of whole plants or crude drugs, the science has gradually evolved into a complete healthcare system with global recognition. Technologic advancements have facilitated traditional science to deliver numerous breakthrough botanicals with potency equivalent to those of conventional drugs. The renewed interest in traditional medicine is mainly attributed to its ability to prevent disease, promote health, and improve quality of life. Despite the support received from public bodies and research organizations, development of botanical medicines continues to be a challenging process. The present article gives a summarized description of the various difficulties encountered in the development and evaluation of botanical drugs, including isolation of active compounds and standardization of plant ingredients. It indicates a future direction of traditional medicine toward evidence-based evaluation of health claims through well-controlled safety and efficacy studies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Design
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional / methods*
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / standards
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts