Guest Opinion: The Role of Plant-Based Medicine in Sustainable Healthcare

Sustainable healthcare aims to reduce waste, pollution, and energy usage associated with traditional healthcare procedures. It also attempts to increase operational performance and cut costs while minimizing environmental impacts. What is the most beneficial factor that can help achieve high-quality care? Plant-based medicines might hold the answer. 

The World Health Organization reports  that traditional medicines involve several different methods of disease prevention, diagnosis, and therapy. Medicinal plants are a significant aspect of medicines throughout. Plants provide crucial elements of the healthcare system for around 80% of the world’s population. Additionally, they contribute to the synthesis of many pharmacological substances.

The integration of social, economic, environmental, and ecological aspects is of the utmost importance in conceptualizing sustainable healthcare as a comprehensive strategy. Health outcomes are recognized as subject to the effect of wider social and environmental factors. 

Why Choose Sustainable Healthcare?

Medicinal plants have documented their use in healthcare for millennia, with extensive worldwide research demonstrating their effectiveness. The market value of plant-based medicines surpasses $100 billion annually worldwide. Failing to adopt a sustainable healthcare strategy will exacerbate the environmental impact linked to the healthcare sector. 

Several factors may contribute to the anticipated increase in healthcare spending and resource usage in the next few decades, including

  • population growth, 
  • the increasing prevalence of unhealthy lifestyles, 
  • the growth of chronic disease as lifespans increase, 
  • the aging of populations, and 
  • the need for enhanced accessibility to healthcare services. 

Plant-Based Medicine Versus Conventional Medicine

The cost of getting treatment after you get sick increases daily. Pharmaceutical medications targeting illnesses are more expensive to develop, typically more than $1 billion and as much as $4.2 billion. Plant-based remedies exert a broader spectrum of effects on the physical system. Even though they are less targeted, natural remedies can closely mimic the properties of pharmaceuticals. Although plant-based medicines may take time to deliver relief, they can be effective; they are also less expensive as compared to conventional drugs. 

Typically, designers of plant-based medications aim to promote healing with milder therapeutic impact. However, plant-based therapies can fail because of plant misidentification, poor planning, and inappropriate medicine administration.

Despite the recent introduction of synthetic pharmaceuticals into Western medicine, we place more faith in them than natural remedies that have existed for millennia. Our confidence stems from our new, extensive understanding of their physiological impacts on the human body.

Synthetic drugs undergo a higher level of standardization than natural treatments. Rigorous adherence to stringent standard operating procedures is observed throughout the preparation process, ensuring that each batch maintains a consistent level of quality comparable to its predecessor. 

In contrast, plant-based medicine makers do not adhere to controlled methods, although certain norms apply in Asia. Herbal medications exhibit complex properties and have multifaceted effects on the human body. Currently, our understanding of their safety and effectiveness is incomplete. Consequently, batches of herbal medications may exhibit varying quality levels. The manufacture of herbal medicines encompasses several aspects, including:

  • The classification of plants and their constituent components.
  • Source. 
  • Methods of extraction.

However, natural products can be safer than manufactured medications. A study by the U.S. National Institute of Health suggests that about 8% of hospitalizations in the United States are attributable to the adverse side effects of synthetic medicines.

Health Benefits of Plant-Based Medicine

Recent research has shown that ginger, turmeric, and cannabis possess the ability to successfully mitigate chronic pain, presenting a reliable and efficient substitute for traditional pharmaceutical interventions in the management of enduring pain, including joint, nerve, and chronic pain conditions. These proven medications effectively manage various persistent pain disorders.

Heart conditions are among the leading causes of death in the world, claiming 17.9 million lives every year. Coronary artery disease is characterized by plaque formation within artery walls. Herbal medicines can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by obstructing blood clot formation and lowering lipid levels that can contribute to arterial sclerosis. Natural psychedelics can reduce stress, as well.

For decades, researchers have utilized plant-based medicines in treating cancer, deriving several chemotherapeutic drugs from these botanical sources. For exampleAlbizia Lebbeck, an Australian flowering plant can treat sarcoma and the African spider plant, Gynandropsis Pentaphylla, is used on Hepatoma, a common form of liver cancer. These medications function by eliminating or suppressing cancer cells and bolstering the body’s immune system, assisting in the battle against malignant cells. Due to their beneficial impacts, their popularity is increasing.

Plant-based remedies, including turmeric, ginger, and rosemary, have long been employed in Indian and Chinese medicine to alleviate inflammation. If somebody wishes to reduce and manage their pain and help with inflammation, then turmeric is the answer. It manages pain efficiently and also has anti-inflammatory properties. In contrast, ginger is renowned for its ability to mitigate vertigo symptoms and gastrointestinal distressDue to its intrinsic antioxidant characteristics, Rosemary can treat a variety of health concerns for millennia. Rosemary use has even been shown to improve memory function.

Challenges & Opportunities: Implementing Plant-Based Medicine in Healthcare

A worldwide revival of alternative healthcare systems is driving significant growth in the herbal medication business, highlighting the considerable economic significance of medicinal plants. However, many significant challenges hinder the rise of herbal medicine, including the loss of biodiversity, excessive exploitation and improper use of medicinal plants, industrialization, bio-piracy, and inadequate regulation and infrastructure. 

In the 21st century, the increase in herbal medicine use relies on conservation, rigorous study grounded in traditional knowledge, stringent quality control measures for herbal medicine, and meticulous record keeping. Nature always gives us more than we can ever return. 

Integrating plant-based medicine into sustainable healthcare offers a promising solution to modern health challenges while reducing environmental impact. Problems like inadequate regulation and dwindling biodiversity must be addressed by governments. Embracing plant-based medicine within sustainable healthcare represents a shift towards equitable, accessible healthcare and preserving natural resources. These efforts should focus on improving medicinal plants’ efficiency, effectiveness, and logical use. We can achieve this by incorporating plant-based medicines into national, regional, and municipal health strategies and initiatives. Incorporating medicinal plants into all facets of primary health care is crucial.

Collaboration between countries and communities is essential, along with raising public awareness about the benefits of plant-based medicine. By collectively embracing these actions, we can promote sustainable healthcare, improve health outcomes, and preserve natural resources globally. Let’s commit to better health for the upcoming years by trying to implement more natural medicines for better sustainable healthcare. 

About The Author

Abhay Gupta produces a blog, Just Eco, and is a digital marketer, content writer about recycling, eco-friendly, sustainable living, green energy, zero waste lifestyle.


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