A medicinal herbs is a herbs that is used to attempt to maintain health, to be administered for a specific condition, or both, whether in modern medicine or in traditional medicine. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimated in 2002 that over 50,000 medicinal plants are used across the world. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew more conservatively estimated in 2016 that 17,810 plant species have a medicinal use, out of some 30,000 plants for which a use of any kind is documented.
In modern medicine, around a quarter[a] of the drugs prescribed to patients are derived from medicinal herbs, and they are rigorously tested. In other systems of medicine, medicinal herbs may constitute the majority of what are often informal attempted treatments, not tested scientifically.
The World Health Organization estimates, without reliable data, that some 80 percent of the world’s population depends mainly on traditional medicine (including but not limited to plants); perhaps some two billion people are largely reliant on medicinal plants.
The use of plant-based materials including herbal or natural health products with supposed health benefits, is increasing in developed countries. This brings attendant risks of toxicity and other effects on human health, despite the safe image of herbal remedies. Herbal medicines have been in use since long before modern medicine existed; there was and often still is little or no knowledge of the pharmacological basis of their actions, if any, or of their safety. The World Health Organization formulated a policy on traditional medicine in 1991, and since then has published guidelines for them, with a series of monographs on widely used herbal medicines.