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three questions to better understand herbal medicine

INTERVIEWPlants for prevention and cure. Plant medicine, or phytotherapy, is an ancestral approach of which we can find traces until prehistoric times. “Herbal medicine has never stopped reinventing itself since then, and it has been really used in the medical field for about 40 years”, specifies Eric Lorrain, phytotherapist, author of Phyto, my natural medicine. Which plants to use and for which pathologies? What are the precautions to take before using it? Eric Lorrain takes stock on Monday in Without an appointment on Europe 1.

For which pathologies?

There are plants capable of soothing or even treating all kinds of pain and pathologies. On the one hand, there is preventive herbal medicine. “Several studies have, for example, demonstrated the antiviral virtues of cypress on the flu or the papillomavirus”, affirms Eric Lorrain.

Herbal medicine also treats certain neuropsychic disorders, such as sleep disorders. The ideal in this case is to “combine California poppy with valerian or passionflower”, two plants whose relaxing virtues have been repeatedly demonstrated. Passion flower is also used against stress and anxiety.

Herbal medicine can also overcome physical pathologies. Cranberries, for example, are commonly used to cure cystitis. Climbing ivy has antitussive properties. And to slow down the aging of the skin, Eric Lorrain advises seniors to regularly consume astragalus, a Chinese plant harvested in Sichuan.

In what form to use it?

Not all forms of herbal medicine are equally effective. In liquid form, some plants are more effective in hydroalcoholic extract than in herbal tea, because their agents are better diluted in alcohol than in water.

A large part of medicinal plants are marketed in the form of pills, as food supplements. “The best way to get them is to go see a pharmacist, who selects them and advises his clients,” suggests Eric Lorrain. If one buys these pills on the internet, it is important to verify their provenance. “It is the seriousness of the laboratories that makes the difference.”

Are there any risks?

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Yes, hence the importance of contacting a doctor or a pharmacist. “For example, you must avoid harvesting plants yourself to make herbal teas, this can be dangerous. It is easy, for example, to confuse gentian and white veratre, a highly toxic plant,” warns Eric Lorrain.

Besides these confusions, the lack of botanical knowledge can lead to misdiagnosis and wrong prescriptions. “The ideal is to find a phytotherapist, because medical herbal medicine is part of a clinical process and requires training.” The doctor is delighted to see more and more colleagues taking training on this subject.

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