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More commonly known in the Creole language spoken in Haiti as "Medsin fèy," and in English as Herbal or Botanical Medicine, phytotherapy can best be described as a type of Medicine that make herbs an integral part of the treatment. The word Herb is understood to mean plants, animals or any part of them, that are utilized for medicinal purpose. A herb may be a leaf, a flower, a stem, a seed, a root, a fruit or the bark of a tree, or it might also be any other part or whole of an animal that is used for that specific purpose. It could be, for instance, the liver of a fish or the wool of a lamb.

Certain plants that are used for food flavoring such as thyme, chive or parsley "woucou" (parwah – Bixa orellana) are also considered herbs when they are used for medicinal purposes, as are certain peppers such as "pwav potorik", "pwav ginen" or "pwav a manje " (piperacea family), "reseda"(henna) and allspice. So are oils extracted from avocado, coconut, sesame or peanuts, castor beans or almond and many others, all of them fit into the category of herbs.

It should be noted that in the phytotherapeutic type of medicine those herbs work in a manner that is somewhat similar to that of the pharmaceutical drugs used in conventional Medicine, that is via a chemical make-up that affects the human physiology. The World Health Organization has advanced that approximately 25 percent of all prescription drugs are still derived from trees, shrubs or herbs. Others are made from extracts, and still others are synthesized chemically to mimic a natural plant compound. Of 119 plant-derived pharmaceutical medicines that are on the shelves of the pharmacies to day in the United States, 74 percent of them correlate directly with their traditional uses.



©Max Beauvoir 1998
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