Botanical medicine, or herbal medicine, is the use of plant seeds, leaves, berries, roots, bark, flowers, or any combination thereof, for medicinal purposes. The use of plants as medicines predates written human history. Plants synthesize a variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform important biological functions and to defend against insects, fungi and animals. These same phytochemicals can be used to treat disease and enhance long-term health in humans. Plants mediate their effects on the human body in virtually identical processes to conventional drugs. This is largely due to the fact that over 122 compounds used in modern medicine were derived from traditional (ethnobotanical) sources. In fact, many pharmaceuticals currently available have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including aspirin (from white willow bark), digitalis (from purple foxglove), quinine (from chincona bark), and opium (from poppy seeds). As research continues to grow, botanical medicine is gaining ground as a therapeutic choice that is not only cost effective, but medically effective, with fewer possible side effects. However, use of high quality botanical preparations is required for optimal effect and safety, and should be guided by a qualified professional.