Herbal medicine has been used by people since the dawn of time to both treat disease and maintain good health. It is only in more recent times that medicine has separated out into more distinct branches, with pharmaceuticals forming the everyday medicine of most people in the 1st world. That said, at least 60% of the worlds population still rely on herbal medicine as their primary form of healthcare. It is also important to remember that 80% of modern drugs have been derived from plants. The beauty of plant medicine is that correctly used there are hardly ever any side-effects as each plant contains hundreds, if not thousands of phyto chemicals helping to create a balanced and holistic natural medicine, which when skilfully selected works with you.
Nowadays herbal medicines are very commonly purchased as stand alone products, often sold in shops or online. There are a vast array of products out there and with that there is a great variation in quality, extraction methods, and strength in products. Buying herbal medicines directly off the shelf without expert advice means there are a lot of things you could be second guessing – including whether or not your chosen product/herb is even the best one for you. In fact you can run the risk of spending a lot of money and not making much progress, or even worse, finding the product doesn’t agree with you.
Seeing a qualified medical herbalist takes the guesswork out of herbal medicine! It’s the fast track way to have an expert match you with the right herbs, taking your individual health care needs into consideration. Healthcare which is underpinned by herbal medicine is not about matching a product with a condition, but about matching a person with the right plants.
Medical Herbalists usually have their own dispensaries containing high quality therapeutic grade tinctures, dried herbs and powders and dispense your bespoke blends directly for you (I certainly do).
About Medical Herbalists
Western Medical Herbalists are taught the same diagnostic skills as orthodox doctors; in addition to this herbalists also take the overall constitution of the patient into consideration and aim to identify the root cause of a patient’s symptoms. This enables them to treat the patient as a unique individual and to develop a highly personalised treatment plan, which usually involves bespoke herbal medicines, nutritional and lifestyle advice.
Herbs work at many levels, but they may primarily be viewed as strengthening the body and improving bodily functions. They have many actions – the list is long and vast. Whilst having many actions on the body they ultimately support the body to heal itself a number of diseases may be “treated”. Most conditions seen by doctors can be treated with herbal medicine – but a person specific approach is taken.
Acute conditions can respond to herbal medicine very quickly, whereas chronic conditions, which may have been present for months or years usually take much longer to respond, although relief from many symptoms can often be felt early in treatment.
Medical Herbalists frequently see patients presenting with digestive issues like IBS, reflux and constipation; cardiovascular system/circulatory disorders including high blood pressure; respiratory issues like sinusitis, asthma, coughs and colds; insomnia, anxiety, low mood, skin conditions, menopausal symptoms, thyroid disorders, low immunity, cystitis and recurring infections and prostate problems, amongst many others.
In certain instances other therapies may be deemed more appropriate or you may be referred back to your GP to request specialist attention.
Types of Medicines
Herbal medicines come in many forms. Medical herbalists most commonly prescribe liquid herbal medicines called tinctures, along with herbal teas. Your individualised prescription is dispensed and blended ready for you and usually contains anything between 1 and 10 herbs!
Sometimes powders or capsules may be more appropriate. Other herbal preparations may also be used like creams, balms, sprays, suppositories and pessaries.
Herbal tea blends and tinctures are discussed further below.
Herbal tea blends
Personalised herbal tea blends work out very cost effectively and are also fantastic for treating a range of conditions, they are particularly suited to digestive complaints and urinary system complaints. I source the highest quality therapeutic grade dried herbs to blend into bespoke prescriptions and do my best to create prescription blends that are tasty and easy to take! Wherever possible organic and ethically sourced herbs are used. <insert picture of dried herb blend…>
Liquid medicines (tinctures)
A bespoke blend of herbal tinctures (alcohol based herbal extracts) is most commonly prescribed. A liquid blend of herbal medicines is quick and easy to take, which makes it suited to busy modern lives. Less pleasant tasting herbs and roots are also more difficult to use as infusions, but ideal in tinctures, which are generally taken two or three times a day at approximately 5ml per dose.
I make as many of my own fresh plant tinctures as possible using organic alcohol and am passionate about producing the best quality tinctures. Many of the plants are grown in my garden, which benefits from a permaculture approach or grow wild on our 2 acres of land, which we lovingly look after. The care and quality which goes into the small batches of medicine I make really set them apart and approximately half the medicines I dispense consist of tinctures which I have produced.