Phytotherapy is the use of plant-derived medications in the treatment and prevention of disease. Phytotherapy is a science-based medical practice and thus is distinguished from other approaches.

In some countries, it is considered sufficient to license phytotherapeutic products as medicines, whereas in other countries, phytotherapy is viewed as a form of traditional medicine (In South Africa we are able to write sick notes and prescribe certain natural medicines).

There are a number of phytotherapeutic preparations in use. Examples include preparations derived from the leaves of ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), which are used to treat a range of minor cognitive disorders and certain other disorders of the central nervous system; the aerial parts of St. John’s wort (St. Johnswort; Hypericum perforatum), which typically are used in the treatment of mild to moderate forms of depression; the aerial parts and roots of Echinacea angustifolia (and other species of Echinacea), which are used in the treatment and prevention of the common cold and other respiratory conditions; and parts of African devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), the root of which is used to treat chronic lower back pain.

Practice Number: 000 11312/001