What is Herbalism?

It is probably safe to say the Herbalism is the oldest form of medicine known to man. In any ancient culture a tradition of some form of Herbalism will be found. Herbal medicines stayed at the centre of all medical treatments until the advent of modern synthetic chemical medicines. Now, research is discovering that natural herbs can be as effective as synthetic preparations and in some cases more so.

Herbal medicines work on a simple biochemical level to fulfill three primary functions: to cleanse, to heal and to nourish. Before a body can heal and bring itself the health, it needs to rid itself of the toxins and the dead and decaying matter that litter it. Herbs are used to aid elimination and detoxification.

The next step is to use the power of herbs to assist the body to lead itself back to optimum health. The herbs help to stimulate the body's own self-healing powers and attack the underlying causes of illness.

Lastly herbs are used to maintain the condition of bodily organs and nourish all the body systems helping to keep us on a healthy, even keel. The aim of Herbal Medicine is that by taking herbs over a period of time in moderate doses, the biochemical responses of the body will become automatic and will begin functioning for itself again even when herbs are no longer taken.

What is a herbal practitioner?

Herbal practitioners see members by appointment, take a full medical history, make physical examination as appropriate and discuss relevant factors such as diet, nutrition, exercise, home circumstances and emotional influences.

Prescriptions are usually made up at the consultation. Practitioners vary in the range of herbs used but, as a guide, I have over 150 in my dispensary made from European, North American, Chinese and some tropical plants.

What will happen if I visit a NIMH member?

Initial consultations usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. One of the practitioners aims will be to enable an individual to become more involved in their health care and health promotion. Herbalist and patient will try to identify underlying causes of illness thus working holistically and individually. Many people who seek help from practitioners have chronic (long term) and interconnected symptoms, may be taking pharmacuetical drugs and require careful monitoring and evaluation.

Following an initial visit the practitioner may see the patient two to three weeks afterwards depending upon the severity of their symptoms. Combinations of herbs in different forms are prescribed and as progress is made the prescription and outcomes are evaluated and the choice of herbs reviewed. Herbalists may also make dietary recommendations to individuals where appropriate.

Can't I simply buy some herbal tea bags and use those?

Many herbs can be used safely in the home for acute, self limiting conditions or to enhance health and well being. The National Institute of Medical Herbalists recommends the following: if you have a chronic health problems, are taking prescribed drugs from your doctor, are pregnant or breastfeeding, seek help from a qualified practitioner.

Can you give me examples of conditions that herbalists treat?

Herbalists treat people first! No one prescription will be the same for two people. Underlying causes of illness, resistance to stress, hereditary tendencies, medication all dictate an individual approach.

However herbalists can and do treat a wide variety of people with conditions affecting all systems of the body i.e, digestive problems, circulatory problems (such as high blood pressure), gynaecological problems (such as pre menstrual or menopausal problems), emotional health symptoms such as depression, insomnia, panic attacks etc, conditions affecting the joints and the urinary system.