What is herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is probably the oldest form of medicine known, and is still used by 80% of the world’s population. A great variety of plants are used to promote health and to prevent and treat disease. Herbal practitioners today benefit from the combination of Western and Eastern accumulated traditional wisdom and modern scientific research.
How does herbal medicine work?
Herbs are composed of complex constituents that work together, balancing and complementing one another. Every herb used has known actions and qualities with affinities to one or more body systems or organs. The practitioner is trained to know these qualities and prescribes the herbs accordingly.
How are herbal medicines taken?
Herbs may be taken as ‘teas’ (infusions or decoctions), made into capsules, or made into alcohol-based tinctures or other liquid preparations. They may also be applied externally in creams, ointments and poultices.
Herbs are either used singly, as ‘simples’, or are more commonly mixed together as a formula to produce a balanced and more powerful effect. A herbalist may choose to prescribe a tried and tested formula or mix a new one to suit your individual requirements.
What is the Master Herbalist approach?
The Master Herbalist practises a naturopathic form of herbal medicine that includes not only herbs but also a combination of techniques, such as detoxification, dietary therapy and hydrotherapy, to assist the client back to optimum health. They follow a holistic approach and seek to identify and treat the underlying cause of a condition rather than just the symptoms. The naturopathic philosophy is that the body wants to heal itself, so they prescribe herbs and other techniques to restore vitality and physiological balance to enable it to do this.
What is iridology?
Most Master Herbalists also use iridology, a non-invasive system that analyses the iris of the eye to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your constitution. A simple torch and magnifier, or a camera, are used to view the iris. The findings will be discussed with you and the information used to help you understand your health problems and guide you towards assuming responsibility for creating positive health for yourself. For more information about iridology, visit the website of the Guild of Naturopathic Iridologists:
What happens during a consultation?
The first consultation usually takes at least an hour. This time is necessary for the herbalist to take account of all aspects of your current health problems, lifestyle, diet, medical and family history. Subsequent consultations are usually shorter.
You will be given a personalised health programme that includes herbal medicines, dietary and lifestyle advice, and
naturopathic therapies or detoxification as necessary. Further consultations continue to educate and guide you towards better health and wellbeing. Adjustments will be made to your herbal medications and naturopathic techniques as treatment progresses towards the goal of good health.
What is the difference between herbal and pharmaceutical medicines?
Herbs are used whole and therefore contain a complex mixture of constituents, whereas pharmaceutical drugs are based on one chemical compound, often originally isolated from a plant. Because of their complexity, herbs can have a balanced effect upon human health, e.g. dandelion leaves, which are a natural diuretic, are also rich in potassium, an element that is often depleted when pharmaceutical diuretics are taken. When a diuretic drug is given, potassium has to be supplemented in order to counteract this loss.
The sum total of the constituents in a herb will often create a synergy that can have a greater beneficial effect than any one part in isolation.