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Herbal Remedies

Echinacea. Saint-John’s-wort. Ginkgo. Whether out of frustration with prescription drugs or enthusiasm for natural products, the West is increasingly turning to nonprescription plant-based medicines such as these.

While no one denies that plants can aid in healing, insurance plans and pharmaceutical companies have been slow to embrace the new-old treatments, citing unpredictable results and difficulty in isolating active ingredients. Yet a drug made from a periwinkle plant can offer a 90 percent survival rate for childhood leukemia, a foxglove-derived drug alleviates chronic heart failure, and the list goes on—with countless plant-based cures yet to be discovered.

So should the medical community be more open to herbal remedies? Should insurance plans pay for these often untested medicines? Have you, or someone you know, benefited from plant-based treatments?

Are herbal remedies good for what ails us?

Read our accompanying essay and add your thoughts to our forum.

You can also read excerpts from Joel L. Swerdlow’s article “Nature’s Rx,” from the April 2000 issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. And look for Swerdlow’s new National Geographic book, Nature’s Medicine: Plants That Heal.

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