Position of Herbal Medicine in Current Healthcare System

Traditional medicine remains as a part of the healthcare throughout human civilization, predates the current modern medicine. In fact, a part of modern medicine originates from traditional medicine, which includes Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Unani Medicine and Kampo.

One of the main components in traditional medicine is the use of herbs for the treatment of illnesses as well as for prevention purposes and general health. Various health problems have been known to be well-treated by herbal remedies from common acute illnesses such as cough, flu and fever to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.1,2,3 Some of the herbal preparations are regularly consumed as supplementation for general well-being. The remedies are widely practised in modern world either as complementary to modern medicine or exclusive therapy.

Worldwide prevalence of herbal medicine use increased throughout the years. In Malaysia, at least 33.9% Malaysia used herbal medicine within 12-month period as reported by a local study.4 Another study has reported about 55.5% of Malay women used herbs as one of their health remedies.5 The actual numbers may even be higher than of that reported by the study.

Generally, herbal medicine will be used once it is identified to possess promising efficacy, mostly through years of experience. However, similar to pharmaceutical products, they come with potential side effects. Thus, consequences of side effects must be carefully assessed before considering the use of any herbs as medicine. Currently, a lot of these herbs have been studied scientifically due to increased awareness of their role in maintaining a good health state.

Regulatory bodies in many countries have implemented a set of regulations to ensure the safety aspect of herbal products. These includes countries like United States, countries of European Union, Australia, India and many others.6 In Malaysia, herbal or traditional products are considered regulated products which need to undergo registration process. Each product will be thoroughly assessed by National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency. Only products with acceptable safety profile can be fully registered and distributed. Thus, consumers can continue to use herbal medicine with better confidence in term of safety as well as effectiveness of the registered products.


  1.  Mousa HA. J Evid Based Complementary Altern
  2.  Kumar S. et al. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2021.
  3.  Steven GC. & George SC. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2017.
  4. Aziz Z. & Tey NP. Complement Ther Med. 2009.
  5. Tengku Mohamad TAS et al. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2019.
  6. Sanjay S. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2015.


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