How do Herbs differ from Drugs?

Most pharmaceutical drugs are single chemical entities that are highly refined, purified and mostly synthetic.  In contrast, herbal medicines are prepared from living or dried whole plants that contain hundreds to thousands of interrelated compounds.  Modern science is beginning to explain the complexity of plants and the mechanisms by which they nourish and encourage the body’s innate healing capacity (why they do what they do).  The synergy of plant compounds is being recognized as a reason for their broad ranging effects on the body’s various function and structural components.

A common belief about herbs is that they are gentle, slow acting, and need more time to be effective.  While that is true for many culinary herbs, there are plenty of plant medicines that act immediately and effectively, including digitalis (from foxglove) and morphine (from the poppy).  Most powerful plants are poisonous in high doses, much like pharmaceutical drugs.  Interestingly, the word drug is derived from the French word drogue, which means dried plant.