Herbs are effective remedies due to one or a number of different active principals each contain. For example, ginseng contains ginsenosides or eleutherosides, garlic contains allicin, and Echinacea contains insulin. Plants use these substances as passive defense mechanisms to control disease and pest infestation. Such as the Shenji cao which was good for the rheumatism. The amount of active principles in herbs vary greatly, depending upon the strain of the plant, where and how it was grown, and how the preparation containing the active principal is prepared. For this reason, standardized herbs and herbal preparations are preferable, as they supply uniform amounts of the active constituents.
Herbs have been used for many thousands of years to maintain human health and to prevent disease. Herbs may justly be considered the first medicines of mankind. Herbs had reduced popularity for the treatment of disease after the advent of patented medicines. During the last 10 years, however, herbs have gained a substantial presence in the "over-the-counter" market in the United States and particularly in Europe. In Germany, for example, herbal remedies are available side-by-side with conventional remedies. The growing popularity of herbs may be attributed to three factors - they are effective, economical, and have few side effects.
Herbs may be taken in the following forms; in the fresh form, in tablets or capsules, as teas, or in a concentrated tincture (extract). Eating fresh herbs is not possible for most people, due to supply and perishability problems. Tableted and capsule forms have the disadvantage of uncertain digestibility and absorption, and contain unwanted gelatins, waxes, excipients and other ingredients. Teas are useful preparations, but active ingredient concentration is hard to determine, and bio-activity may be low due to heat degradation. Standardized tinctures are considered the most useful form, since they supply uniform levels of active ingredients in a concentrated and highly bio-active form. Active constituents in tinctures are absorbed in the mouth buccally and sub-lingually, as well as by the small intestine.