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Herbal medicine is the use of plant remedies (ointments, oils, dried parts, and extracts) in the treatment of disease. Along with massage, it is the oldest form of medicine known to man.
Originally plants were found by trial and error and their effectiveness established over the millennia.
Today, this wealth of knowledge is enhanced by scientific verification of a plant's chemical constituents, enabling practitioners to mix and prescribe plants with a high degree of accuracy and understanding.
Over 80% of the worlds population rely on herbs for health and as such it is still the most widely used form of medicine in the world even though we think of it as an alternative therapy.
Herbal medicines, are extracts from whole parts of a plant (e.g. berries, leaves, roots etc.),
they contain hundreds, sometimes thousands of plant constituents.
It is the Herbalists contention that these other constituents balance the 'active' ingredients,
making them more or less powerful.
In orthodox medicine, for example, an alkaloid from the herb
Ephedra sinica is used to treat asthma, it has the side effect, however, of raising the blood pressure. Within the whole plant are six other alkaloids, one of which prevents a rise in blood pressure.
Similarly, synthetic diuretics (drugs which increase the flow of urine) also have the effect of seriously reducing potassium. Herbalists prefer Dandelion leaves which are a powerful diuretic but also contain potassium to naturally restore the potassium which is lost.
Herbs help to stimulate the body to do what it is supposed to, thereby helping the body to help itself.
Different cultures have their own philosophies with regards to the use of herbs; here at Cure by Nature, our resident herbalist uses Western Herbal Medicine.
What sorts of conditions can Herbal Medicine Treat?
Herbal Medicine can be useful for almost any condition – whether it has been there for just a short while (such as a cold) or a long time (such as irritable bowel syndrome).
You can even see a Herbalist for a general health screen, to check that you are doing all the right things! If you are unsure whether Herbal Medicine is suitable for you, come in and speak to one of our practitioners, who will be happy to advise you.
Herbal Medicine is safe to use for most people, including babies, children, pregnant women and the elderly. Keep in mind however that some herbs can interact with prescribed medication and are unsuitable in certain circumstances (particularly pregnancy, breast-feeding and professional athletes). For this reason, it is always best to see a qualified therapist for a suitable prescription.
What should I expect in a consultation?
You will need to arrive 10 minutes early for your first appointment to fill in a form (basic information about yourself). The first consultation will last for about an hour. During this time, the Herbalist will ask lots of questions about all systems of the body – not just those you came in for. Some of these questions may not seem relevant to your problem however the idea is to get a picture of your overall health – physical, mental and emotional. She will also use various diagnostic techniques which may include blood pressure and tongue and nail diagnosis.
At the end of the consultation, you will be given a prescription. This may include herbs in the form of tinctures, teas, tablets or creams. It is rare for only one herb to be prescribed; normally a combination of herbs will be put together - this is the art of Herbal Medicine!
The Herbalist will then tell you when she wants to see you for your follow-up consult. Follow-up consultations take about 30 minutes.
NB: If you would like a combined herbal medicine and nutrition consultation, please see the section under “Naturopathy”