Herbal medicine is the practice of using plants in a holistic manner to treat or prevent disease. Herbs are typically given in the form of tinctures (alcoholic extracts), teas, tablets, or capsules.
What can herbal medicine treat?
Herbal medicine can treat almost any condition you might take to your doctor. In this country, herbalists undergo four year full time training and are qualified to make a judgement on whether a patient’s complaint can be adequately and safely treated with herbal medicine. Often, conventional medicine and herbal medicine are used alongside each other. Conditions commonly treated by medical herbalists include:
- gynaecological problems - menopause, PMT, infertility, endometriosis, PCOS
- gastrointestinal problems - IBS, peptic ulcer, indigestion
- joint disorders - rheumatoid arthritis, gout
- disorders of the nervous system - stress, depression, insomnia, migraines
- allergic conditions - asthma, hayfever
- circulatory problems - high blood pressure, angina, varicose veins
- children’s problems – recurrent infections, sleeping difficulties, skin problems
Herbalists aim to identify and treat the cause, not merely the symptoms of a disease. They are trained in diagnostic techniques of conventional medicine, but rely entirely on plants in their Materia Medica.
The medicines used are whole plant extracts, and contain hundreds, perhaps thousands of plant constituents. Herbalists believe that the active constituents are balanced within the plant and are made more (or less) powerful by the numerous other substances present. It is therefore a fundamental principle in herbal medicine that the value of a medicinal herb cannot be reduced to a list of its active constituents. This principle of synergy is beginning to be validated by research.
The National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) was established in 1864 and is the oldest body of practising medical herbalists in the world. All members have undergone a rigorous four year training and adhere to a strict code of ethics. They have the letter MNIMH after their names. www.nimh.org.uk
Initial consultations are £50 for one hour. Follow up sessions are £35 for half an hour. Herbs are usually £6 per week for your personal prescription of tinctures, made up individually for the patient. Your herbalist will discuss the recommended frequency of sessions at your first appointment.