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The pattern of herbal medicine across Europe today is remarkably varied, but a common thread runs through the different traditions and practices. Most European herbalists use orthodox methods of diagnosis, looking for signs of infection and inflammation. Herbalists then choose plant medicines and recommend suitable dietary and lifestyle changes that allows the body's self-regenerating powers -the modern equivalent of the ``vital spirit``- to establish good health once again. 

Recovery may take longer than it would if treated with conventional medicine, but relief is generally enduring and free from side effects. A stomach ulcer, for example, may be treated with a variety of herbs such as meadowsweet (filipendula ulmaria), German chamomile (Chamomilla recutita), marashmallow (Althaea officinal ) and deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna).

In European herbal medicine, native herbs are still highly popular. Alpine plants such as arnica (Arnica Montana) and pasque flower (Anemone pulastilla) are much used in Swiss, German, Italian and French herbal medicine, while comfrey (Symphytum offcinale).

Foreign Herbs and Synthesized Drugs

The growing use of foreign herbs in the 17th century prompted heated debate about the relative value of indigenous European herbs, but for the majority of the population this was irrelevant as the imported herbs were well out of their price range. In the end, it created a rift in herbal medicine. 

Once conventional medicine established monopoly of practice -in most European countries by the end of the 19th century -it became (and in many cases still remains) illegal to practice herbalism without medical certification. 

In Greece, traditional herbalists, known as komboyannites, were persecuted, and the word itself became an insult meaning "trickster" or ``quack``. While in France and Italy, experienced traditional herbalists were imprisoned for providing treatment to their patients.




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