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Herbal Medicine - Herbalism
Herbal medicine is the use of high quality herbal preparations (made from the leaves, bark or roots of plants) to treat people with all manner of conditions, illness and disease.
A full health check is made to ensure that the remedies are safe in every individual case.
Herbal medicine is also known as herbalism, botanical medicine, or phytotherapy and is the oldest form of medicine with a long history of use.
Over thousands of years our ancestors built up a sound knowledge of the safest and most effective medicinal plants, giving modern herbalists a solid database to work from.
Now, with the advancement of science we can identify the chemical constituents within these plants, which has confirmed their actions in the human body and supported their traditional uses. Our bodies accept plant medicine just as naturally as it does food, and can break it down and use it easily.
You can bring any health issue to a medical herbalist
Medical herbalists are trained in the same clinical diagnostic skills as orthodox doctors, but take a more holistic approach to the person and their illness. Herbalists take care to find the best treatment for you as an individual, and may refer you to your GP or a specialist as appropriate.
The herbalist’s approach & how herbal medicine works
A ‘holistic approach’ means that the person is viewed as a whole with all aspects taken into account. Whilst a patient’s symptoms are important, it is establishing the underlying cause of the problem that is key to the way herbalists work.
The prescribed herbs are directed at the likely cause of the symptoms, rather than just the symptoms alone. Just treating or suppressing symptoms does not rid the body of the disease itself.
The medicinal plants used by herbalists restore balance in the tissues and organs, enabling the natural healing systems within the body to work more efficiently.
Individual herbs tend to have a particular affinity to certain organs and tissues in the body, and restore their correct functions (e.g. anti-inflammatory to the digestive tract).
What happens in a consultation with a medical herbalist?
The first visit usually takes at least an hour to discuss the presenting illness and to take a full medical history. This builds up a detailed picture you as a whole being and allows your prescription to be tailored to your individual needs.
Any current medication will be checked for compatibility with the herbs.
The consultation may include advice about diet and lifestyle, as well as the prescribed herbal medicine. Some examinations may be required as part of the of the diagnosis and health check (i.e. taking your blood pressure).
All information is regarded as strictly confidential.
You will be prescribed 2 weeks worth of medicine, and then a follow up appointment made to check your progress. From then on, your follow up consultations will be usually half an hour, and every 4-6 weeks. Herbal medicine is about rebalancing the health of the body, and your condition may respond very quickly to the herbs, or it may take longer particularly if the condition is something that you have suffered for a long time.
What does herbal medicine look like?
Herbal medicine can be in the form of a liquid tincture (herbs preserved in alcohol) or a fresh herbal juice, and a small amount is taken in water. Or you may be given dried herbs to make a tea with. Topical treatments can be creams or herbal oils.
What are the differences between herbs and pharmaceutical drugs?
Our modern medicines are based on chemical copies of medicinal plants.
Scientists have looked closely at medicinal plants to find the most therapeutically active substances in them. Once identified, one of the most active constituents is selected and then chemically isolated from the others, and reproduced in a laboratory.
From this point the chemical substance is developed, it may be concentrated to be many times stronger than the one found in the plant, or changed completely to increase its action. This is how pharmaceutical drugs are developed, and it is these drugs that now dominate the western orthodox medicinal system.
Being able to synthesise active ingredients in the laboratory means that the pharmaceutical companies can make medicine that can be patented, mass produced and sold.
Unfortunately, side effects are not unusual with pharmaceutical drugs because they are chemically different to the original plant substance that is our natural medicine.
A single constituent may have been made many times stronger in the laboratory than that found in the original plant, which may be too aggressive or stimulating to the body.
Or even a completely new medicine invented in the laboratory, which the body has not evolved to recognise and deal with.
Problems arise when single constituents have been taken out of the context of the whole plant, and separated from the other supporting substances. For plants that have potent stimulating substances also have calming and balancing substances to balance out the effects on the body.
Within the whole plant, there are many active constituents; all working together in a well-balanced package (as nature intended), and that makes adverse side effects from herbal medicine very rare.
For example, the herb Ephedra sinica is the source of the alkaloid ‘ephedrine’ which is used, in orthodox medicine, to treat asthma and nasal congestion but it has the side effect of raising blood pressure.
Within the whole plant are six other alkaloids one of which prevents a rise in blood pressure.
Synthetic diuretics (drugs that increase the flow of urine) seriously reduce the potassium levels in the body; this has to be restored using potassium supplements.
The Herbalist uses dandelion leaves, which are a potent diuretic but contains potassium to naturally replace that which is lost.
[The National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) website 2005]
What problems do people have herbal medicine for?
Herbal medicine can treat almost any condition that patients might take to their doctor, and herbalists see patients with a wide range of acute and chronic conditions.
Common complaints seen include;
Skin conditions inc. Psoriasis Acne, Eczema and Fungal Skin & Nail Infections,
Digestive disorders inc. Constipation, Diarrhoea, Haemorrhoids (piles), Acid Reflux (heartburn), Dyspepsia (indigestion), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Halitosis, Ulcers & Colitis,
Heart and circulation problems inc. Angina, High Blood Pressure, Palpitations, Heart Arrhythmias, Varicose Veins, Raynaud’s disease,
Menstrual problems inc. Dysmenorrhoea (painful periods), Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), Infertility, Endometriosis & Menopausal problems,
Urinary, Bladder & Kidney problems, inc. Cystitis, & Urgency,
Joint pain inc. Gout, Arthritis & Rheumatism,
Stress & Anxiety, inc. Depression, Migraines, Headaches, & Insomnia.
Respiratory problems inc Tonsillitis, Bronchitis, Asthma, Coughs & Colds,
Allergic responses inc. Hay fever and Allergies.
…to name just a few!!
Herbal medicine offers a safe, gentle and effective approach to health care and it is suitable for all from babies to the elderly.
As you may or may not be aware -
All 'over the counter' Herbal Remedies have been banned since the beginning of May '11, with the exception of a hand full of licenced products. These are considerably more expensive (up to 10x the price in some cases) and are primarily produced by the pharmaceutical industry. If you feel that this is an infringement on your rights to access to natural health care then go here - Alliance for Natural Health.
In the meantime, if you have been taking a herbal remedy, for which you are now having to pay over inflated prices or your remedy of choice is no longer available in Europe, then our Medical Herbalist has agreed to run short consultations at a reduced price, thereafter we can supply you with natural untainted herbal medicines in either tincture of capsules. Please call for details.
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