chapter  4
56 Pages

The Use of Psychotropic Herbal and Natural Medicines in Latina/o and Mestiza/o Populations


Herbal medications have been used for hundreds of years to treat human ailments. In most parts of the world they remain an important treatment-if not the only treatment availableto ease human suffering. The majority of our most valuable drugs today have been isolated from plant and animal sources, exemplifying a most natural evolutionary relationship between humankind and the natural environment. Some of these medications include aspirin, morphine, reserpine (the first antipsychotic), almost all of our antibiotics, digitalis, and such anticancer agents as taxol, vinblastine, and vincristine. During the past decade, traditional systems of medicine have become a topic of global importance. With the advent of modern science, we are now able to better understand the composition of medicinal plants and how they specifically interact with the nervous system. A large and increasing number of patients use medicinal herbs or seek the advice of their physician regarding their use. Interest in medicinal herbs has increased scientific scrutiny of their therapeutic potential and safety, thereby providing physicians with data to help patients make wise decisions about their use.