Phytotherapy, the science of medicinal plants

Advances in science allow greater knowledge about medicinal plants , the products that derive of these, their optimal concentrations, active compounds, etc. In recent years, herbal medicine has been gaining strength in Europe among different sectors, including sports. With the use of phytotherapy, an attempt is made to treat the effect of some diseases through the use of plants and to alleviate, prevent or even restore.

Use of medicinal plants and recommendations

The main applications in which herbal medicine seems to have an improvement effect are:

  • Improves the evolution of injuries.
  • Improves or maintains the immune system.
  • Improves quality of sleep.
  • Improves nerves and stress.
  • Improves digestive discomfort.

When using this type of product it is important that we take into account the following aspects:

How to take medicinal plants

The activity and efficacy of medicinal plants will depend on the presentation or format, dose and form of administration . As with sports drugs or supplements, the diagnosis must be known before choosing the herbal preparation, so as to guarantee its efficacy, quality and safety. Once the type of plant has been chosen the specialist will advise the most effective form of administration, it can be:

  • Liquid form : the most used form of administration is herbal teas. It can be obtained by infusion, decoction or maceration with water with a small amount of plant. Another way can be through syrups, drops or essential oils, etc. These are preparations that dissolve, for example, in alcohol, and in which different types of extraction are carried out.
  • Semi-liquid form : they are usually formulations for external use, such as ointments, creams, gels ...
  • Solid forms : capsules, powdered roots ... where the concentration is usually higher and seems to produce a greater effect.

Uses according to the type of medicinal plant

  • Stimulants : excitants of the nervous system. Such as guarana , mate and green tea .
  • Adaptogens : those plants that provide a protective effect against the state of stress, normalizing the functions of the body and strengthening the systems compromised by it. Like ginseng or maca.
  • Anabolic : those that promote a favorable metabolic and endocrine environment for increased protein synthesis. This would be the case with thistle and fenugreek.
  • Relaxing : plants with sedative, tranquilizing and hypnotic properties. The most used are Melissa, Valerian, Passionflower, Linden, California Poppy.
  • Digestive : plants that can help improve gastrointestinal disorders, abdominal pain or intestinal transit disorder. The most used are anise , plantago, chamomile , papaya, pineapple, Artichoke and thistle Mariano .
  • Musculoskeletal affection : they are used for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, their active principles usually have analgesic and anti-inflammatory action. Some of the most used plants are turmeric, boswellia, devil's claw and sauce .
  • Immunomodulators : they are characterized by influencing in various ways, both quantitatively and qualitatively, on macrophage cells, monocytes, lymphocytes or granulocytes.Through these, they activate certain protection mechanisms against foreign agents such as viruses or bacteria. Some of the most commonly used are echinacea and cat's claw.
  • Circulatory system : vasodilator and antispasmodic action. It is used to treat headaches and migraines, and it also seems to improve cognitive function. We find in this group the ginkgo biloba .

The use of these plants may or may not help, as an adjunct or not to the therapeutic treatment, depending on the dose, the presentation, the form of administration, also for athletes. Some are less effective than conventional drugs, while the effect of others would be comparable. The technological advances make it possible to quantify the active principles, being able to guarantee the same amount in each dose, so the product can guarantee a therapeutic effect , if supported by scientific studies.

What you should know ...

  • Phytotherapy is the science that studies the use of plants, roots, etc. for a therapeutic purpose, to prevent, ameliorate or cure a disease.
  • Advances in science allow greater knowledge about medicinal plants, the products derived from them, their optimal concentrations, active compounds, etc.
  • There are risks associated with the consumption of medicinal plants such as adverse reactions, therapeutic ineffectiveness, interactions, doping.

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