Herbal Medicine

Traditional Herbal Medicines are naturally occurring, plant-derived substances with minimal or no industrial processing that have been used to treat illness within local or regional healing practices. Traditional herbal medicines are getting significant attention in global health debates. In China, traditional herbal medicine played a prominent role in the strategy to contain and treat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Eighty per cent of African populations use some form of traditional herbal medicine, and the worldwide annual market for these products approaches US$ 60 billion. Many hope traditional herbal medicine research will play a critical role in global health. China, India, Nigeria, the United States of America (USA) and WHO have all made substantial research investments in traditional herbal medicines. Industry has also invested millions of US dollars looking for promising medicinal herbs and novel chemical compounds. This is still a relatively modest investment compared to the overall pharmaceutical industry; however, it raises interesting ethical questions, some of which are not faced in more conventional drug development.