what is medical herbalism?
What can herbal medicine treat?
A wide range of health conditions may respond well to herbal treatment. Please ring if you wish to discuss a particular problem - outcomes are more to do with your personal history and circumstances than with the name of your illness.
I try to integrate treatment with that given by NHS services, and will want to know details of any pharmaceutical medications that you may be taking. Sometimes I may refer a patient back to their GP for diagnostic tests.
More About A Herbal Consultation
When I see a patient, most of the time is taken up with talking, and usually the consultation ends with my prescribing and dispensing a herbal medication. With consultations lasting up to an hour there is an emphasis on my listening to the patient, and there is space both for hearing the whole of a complex medical history and for patients to unload any emotional burdens that might be associated with this. Herbalists try to balance their insights into the physical and emotional aspects of a patient's condition. Whilst not all consultations will require any physical examination, herbalists will often listen to heart or breath sounds, palpate an abdomen or examine a joint. Recording of a patient's blood pressure is often routine.
Herbalists are trained in orthodox medical science and use the same technical language as the medical professions. Although I may use the same labels in terms of pathology, my aim is to support normal physiology and aid the ways in which the body heals itself rather than to treat a named disease. Sometimes a patient is encouraged to see symptoms such as tiredness or fever as being part of their healing rather than just an aspect of their problem.
While a person may often want a medicine as a quick fix for an illness, their encounter with a herbalist may actually encourage them to place their symptoms and their recovery into a wider context. Patients are encouraged to observe patterns in their illness, and to note how current habits and diet affect their health. A relatively minor condition will be seen as a chance to avert more serious illness in the future by attention to diet, exercise and emotional needs in the present.
For me to formulate an effective remedy I have to both correctly diagnose the patient's condition and make enough of a connection with the patient to ascertain which will be the most effective combination of herbs for that person.
Herbalists, as professionals, are more involved with, and more familiar with the sources of their medication than are homeopaths or orthodox doctors. Like many herbalists, I grow some of my own supplies, and find myself involved in political debate about cultivation, harvesting and conservation of medicinal plant species. Herbalists find themselves responsible for caring for plants as well as people. I sometimes enrol patients to collect some of their own medication, showing them pictures or examples of living plants and common "weeds" may be mentioned as sources for self help medication. In such ways consulting with a herbalist becomes a form of experiential ecology, and a possible way of re-establishing links with the natural environment that in itself is part of the healing process.