Plants have been utilized to treat illness and to maintain wellness since before recorded history. Using plants medicinally is called herbal medicine, botanical medicine or phytomedicine. While herbalism has not been used much in the US in the recent decades, advances in research and better quality control of products are changing that. In Europe, botanical medicine is already well integrated into medical practice. Other medical traditions (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda) use botanicals extensively. Almost a fourth of prescription drugs are derived from plants.
Herbs or combinations of different herbs often have fewer side effects than prescription medications. In that way they may be seen as a more conservative treatment option. However, they may have side effects and may also interact with medications.
In addition, botanicals offer other benefits including immune boosting function (Echinacea and astragalus), stress reduction without sedation (lemon balm, milky oats) and prevention or lessening of symptoms (butterbur for migraines).