Herbal Medicine


Medical herbalism is the oldest and the most widely used system of traditional healing in the world. Indigenous plants have been used effectively to treat local people and their diseases for thousands of years. It is the most tried and tested form of healthcare. Even today, 80% of the worlds population rely on local plants rather than pharmaceutical drugs for medicine.
 
Herbalists use plant materials in the form herbal teas, tinctures, syrups, ointments oils and other preparations as appropriate, in conjunction with advice about diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors to restore and enhance health.
 
Herbalists have a holistic approach to healthcare which is not just limited to the treatment of disease. We also consider emotional and spiritual wellbeing. We look for underlying causes of disruption and know which plants will act to restore equilibrium and self healing. Remedies given are specific to the individual. We know what plants to use safely in any given circumstance and are aware of any possible interaction between prescribed drugs and herbal medicines.
 

Modern herbalists undergo an extensive 4 year training which combines the best of traditional knowledge with modern clinical skills and scientific approach. We are trained in diagnosis, physical examination, nutrition, botany, plant pharmacy and have acquired hands on experience working alongside practised herbalists. Many herbalist are also trained in other therapies which complement their practice.
 

Many modern pharmaceuticals have been developed from plants, many of which are still used in modern herbal practice. One of our core principles is that the whole plant is safer and more effective than a refined extract or isolated active ingredient. Herbal medicines contain hundreds of different ingredients which act together in a gentler, safer and often more effective manner.

About Herbal Medicine

Aconitum napellus (Wolfsbane) Many people are now treating themselves with over the counter (OTC) herbal medicines. Whilst most herbalists would encourage informed use of herbs for self help, OTC medication is not always successful because :
  • The wrong herb may be taken
  • The herb is taken in an inappropriate form or dose. Standardised extracts of active ingredients are becoming increasingly common, and this is not the same as taking the whole plant.
  • Herbs are sold OTC without herbal expertise to back them up. Shop assistants are not trained in herbal medicine. If you want the best of herbal treatment, consult a qualified herbalist!
Importantly:
  • Remember that herbs are medicines so don't exceed the dosage recommendations on the packaging;
  • If the symptoms have not disappeared within a few weeks, seek expert advice;
  • If the symptoms do disappear, stop taking the medicine. Don't keep on taking it as a preventative;
  • Only treat conditions that you would consider treating yourself with orthodox medicines. If it is something you'd take to a doctor - but would like treated herbally- go to a herbalist;
  • Never take herbs if you are already on another form of medication, there may be interactions between the two forms of medicines;
  • Always tell your health professional if you are taking any form of medication.

The Herbal Consultation

The herbalist's consulting room. An initial consultation with a qualified herbal practitioner typically lasts about one hour. During the consultation, a complete medical history is taken and discussed in complete confidence. There may be a blood pressure check and a physical examination if required. Prescriptions may be prepared on the premises as each mixture is particular to the patient.
 
There are plenty of opportunities to ask questions and discuss the treatment plan. Subsequent sessions last about half an hour. One or two sessions may be sufficient for minor ailments, but long standing chronic conditions may take several months of treatment, with visits every 2, 3 or 4 weeks. Sometimes repeat prescriptions can be given without a consultation. The length of proposed treatment and what it will involve is discussed. Progress is continually assessed.
 
Many patients, once they have established confidence in their herbalist, will visit with any other health problems that may arise. Once the benefits of treating health problems herbally become apparent, people are keen to use it as their main form of healthcare.
 
Although emphasis is on the person rather than the illness, the following list gives an idea of the range of conditions commonly treated:
  • Arthritis and rheumatism;
  • Allergies, asthma, eczema, hayfever;
  • Coughs, catarrh, ear and sinus problems;
  • Heart and circulatory problems (such as high blood pressure, poor circulation);
  • Digestive and bowel problems (such as indigestion, constipation);
  • Stress, emotional and sleep problems;
  • Painful and heavy periods, PMT, other menstrual and menopausal problems;
  • Infertility, pregnancy, and planning for natural childbirth, post natal problems;
  • Cystitis and urinary problems;
  • Acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and otherskin problems;
  • Chronic infections, fatigue and ME;
  • A wide range of childrens problems.
Herbal medicine is:
  • Safe, effective treatment by a qualified professional;
  • Safe for all ages (even babies) and in pregnancy;
  • Less likely to produce side effects than isolated chemicals;
  • Effective for a wide range of conditions;
  • Looks at the person as a whole;
  • Tried and tested over centuries of use.

Conservation

Harvesting commercially grown herbs. Plant medicine is our heritage. By acknowledging how useful they are to us, we also have to behave responsibly. This means: Not using herbs indiscriminately and inappropriately Harvesting herbs in a sustainable way.
 
It is important we source our medicines sustainably, whether that is wild harvested or from cultivated stocks, so as not to threaten the survival of plants and ecosystems. Rowan grows as much as she can herself and makes her own medicines, and sources the rest from reputable organic suppliers. Luckily herbs grow like weeds alongside organic food crops, so good food grows alongside good medicine!
 

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