Phytotherapy, or rather "rational phytotherapy", examines the application of herbal preparations, e.g. in the form of drugs, medical devides, balanced diets or food supplements. It also examines pharmaceutical application forms and the relation between botanical aspects (selection of the best suited species and their collection or cultivation), pharmacognosy (detection of plant constituents in relation with plant parts), pharmacology (the search for mechanisms of action), toxicology and clinicial safety and efficacy.
The term "Phytotherapy" was introduced to the medical sciences by the French physician Henri Leclerc (1870-1955). The term includes a fact-based, allopathic therapeutic approach fundamentally differing from the the philosophies of homeopathy and anthroposophy. Rational phytotherapy is derived from Centuries of medicinal experience, but ultimately has the goal of giving scientific proof of the claim it makes.
Phytotherapy is therefore not an "alternative" treatment form, it is an essential part of the allopathic evidence-based medicinal system. Due the long-standing experience with the successful application of herbal preparations there is still much to do for research and medical practise. However, the multitude of clinical trials with positive outcomes for efficacy and generally a highly benign risk profile clearly underlines the importance of phytotherapeutic research and practical application in therapy.