Skip to content

OU on the BBC: Alternative Medicine - Programme 3: Herbalism

Updated Friday 13th January 2006

Kathy Sykes continues her investigation for the BBC/OU series Alternative Medicine, this time looking at the ancient practice of herbalism

Kathy Sykes jogging Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team

Kathy discovers that some herbs do indeed have powerful healing properties. Indeed, some may even offer answers to medical conditions that baffle modern science.

Kathy travels through South Africa, Germany and Britain. Everywhere there are distinct herbal traditions, each with their unique practices and distinctive plants. But one claim underlies them all – herbs have remarkable properties that make them powerful medicines.

In South Africa, she learns about a herb which is being touted as a new weapon in the fight against HIV-AIDS. She listens to the stories of patients and their carers who claim it is saving lives.

In Britain she meets people who are pinning their hopes on herbs – some with remarkable results. And in Germany she meets the scientists who are taking them apart and submitting them to rigorous clinical trials. Out of this has emerged at least eight ‘super herbs’; herbs that in clinical trials performed so well that may give their pharmaceutical competitors a run for their money.

So, what’s their secret? Working with fellow scientists, Kathy discovers that plants contain much more than a single – or even two or three – active ingredients. They are enormously complex chemical cocktails that have medicinal properties modern pharmaceuticals simply can’t reproduce.


This website is provided for general information only. You should not treat it as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.

The BBC and the Open University are not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of the OpenLearn website.

The BBC and the Open University are not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor do they endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own GP if you are in any way concerned about your health.

First broadcast: Tuesday 24 Jan 2006 on BBC TWO

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

OU on the BBC: Alternative Medicine - Programme 1: Acupuncture Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

OU on the BBC: Alternative Medicine - Programme 1: Acupuncture

Kathy Sykes investigates the 2,000 year-old practice of acupuncture for the BBC/OU series Alternative Medicine

Article
World Snake Day: snakes in religion Creative commons image Icon By LongitudeLatitude via Flickr under Creative Commons license under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

World Snake Day: snakes in religion

To celebrate World Snake Day (16th July), the OU's Graham Harvey explores how snakes have slithered sinuously through sacred ceremonies and stories for many millennia.

Article
OU on TV and radio this week - 03-03-12 to 09-03-12 Creative commons image Icon weesam under CC-BY-NC-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on TV and radio this week - 03-03-12 to 09-03-12

Further slices of Empire and Welsh histories, and a chance to catch up online with a Picture Of Health.

Article
Michael Morpurgo on childhood Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Michael Morpurgo article icon

Education & Development 

Michael Morpurgo on childhood

Find out about the man behind the voice in the invention of childhood - the presenter of The Invention Of Childhood in his own words.

Article
Great Ormond Street Hospital: Fix my genes Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Great Ormond Street Hospital: Fix my genes

Bone marrow transplants and gene therapy are explored in the first episode. What are the risks and how do parents and doctors make the difficult decisions about what's best for the sick child?

Article
OU on the BBC: The Other Medicine - Programme 6: A Marriage Made In Heaven Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on the BBC: The Other Medicine - Programme 6: A Marriage Made In Heaven

In the final programme in the BBC/OU series The Other Medicine, Anna Ford asks whether CAM and orthodox medicines can work together

Article
Open University programmes on TV, radio and online Creative commons image Icon Kevin76 under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Open University programmes on TV, radio and online

For half a century, the OU has produced programmes with the BBC (and now, other broadcasters). Here's a guide to what's coming up in the next few days, and what you can catch up with via iPlayer.

Article
OU on TV and radio this week - 12-10-13 to 19-10-13 Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

OU on TV and radio this week - 12-10-13 to 19-10-13

Chris Packham in the forest; Michael Moseley with some poison; summer wildlife and Evan Davis talking weapons of war.

Article
OU on the BBC: Trust Me, I'm A Doctor - Superfoods Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

OU on the BBC: Trust Me, I'm A Doctor - Superfoods

Can foods be as potent as medicines? The second episode of Trust Me, I'm a Doctor investigates the truth about superfoods.

Article