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 today in the United States, 74 percent of them correlate
directly with their traditional uses.