Author(s): Jamile B Taheri, Somayyeh Azimi, Nasrin Rafieian, Hosein Akhavan Zhanzhani
Herbs have been used for centuries to prevent and control disease. Herbal extracts are effective because they interact with specific chemical receptors within the body and are in a pharmacodynamic sense, drugs themselves. By using herbal medicines, patients have averted the many side effects that generally come with traditional medicines, but this does not mean that side effects do not occur. Only knowledgeable practitioners can prescribe the right herb and its proper dosage. Herbal medicines had been considered in every culture, however, pharmaceutical companies overturned this type of thinking. Now, pharmaceuticals are called traditional and herbs are libeled as the ‘alternative’. The biggest challenge and problem is lack of information about the effect of herbs in oral tissues, mechanism of effect, and side effects. Several popular conventional drugs on the market are derived from herbs. These include aspirin (from white willow bark), digitalis (from foxglove), and sudafed (modelled after a component in the plant ephedra). Herbal products can vary in their potency. Therefore, care must be taken in selecting herbs, even so, herbal medicines have dramatically fewer side effects and are safer to use than conventional medications. The herbs described in this article are Bloodroot, Caraway, Chamomile, Echinacea, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Aloe Vera, Propolis, and a summary of other herbs that are useful in dentistry. Herbs may be good alternatives to current treatments for oral health problems but it is clear that we need more research.