Herbs, flowers, and other plants have been used for medicinal purposes for millennia. There is evidence suggesting that the herb yarrow was used as long as 60,000 years ago in what is modern day Iraq to treat wounds. Evidence also suggests that ancient Europeans used the fruit found in birch trees as a laxative. Although it is difficult to discern exactly how well our ancestors understood the relationship between natural remedies and their bodies, it is clear that they have been part of humanity's medicinal toolkit for ages.
In many parts of the world, plant-based medicines continue to be used to treat a wide variety of diseases. With the dawn of the twentieth century, however, Western medicine began to distance itself from these traditional remedies. It was commonly beheld that modern pharmaceuticals made their more natural counterparts obsolete.
In response to the surge in sales of plant-based medicines and supplements, a growing number of Western researchers are now taking a second look at natural treatments. They are applying the same level of empirical scrutiny that synthetic pharmaceuticals receive and finding that there are numerous plants that do possess medicinal qualities. They are also finding that these traditional medicines oftentimes spare patients the numerous side effects that a regimen of pharmaceuticals created within a lab are known to cause.