Plants have always been of interest because of their natural beauty, smell and flavor.
Medicinal plants receive even more attention because of the power of their active constituents.
Plants are different from drugs in that plants contain a library of compounds, not just the one active agent that drugs are made as.
Medicinal plants have more scientific data now than in the past. Their active ingredients, the amounts they are required as a dose, have been documented and is easily available to practitioners.
Botanical monographs, like those of the German Commission E series, contain the chemical profile of the plant as well as information on proper use, contraindications, and side effects. They also indicate the amount deemed to be necessary to produce the desired effect.
The book and its organization is conceptually similar to the Physicians Desk Reference.
Because of this, medical practitioners can administer herbal medicine with more confidence.
In fact, herbal medicine and pharmaceutical medicine are dispensed in roughly equal proportions throughout Europe. Some herbal formulas like St. John’s Wort even outsell the popular serotonin re-uptake inhibitor drug, Prozac.