The Medicine Garden, Western herbalists

How do Herbalists work?

Herbal medicine uses preparations of plants with medicinal properties to return the body to health when we are suffering from sickness. Some herbs are potentially drug-like in their actions, and need a specialist to understand how best to use them, while a large number of herbal medicines are generally very safe to use, and therefore can be an effective form of self treatment.

The job of a Herbalist is to make a thorough assesment of the people they see, and then to decide which herbs will be most helpful and how it will be best to use them. Herbs work in the body in very complex ways, so unlike modern drugs there isn't always a particular herb for a particular problem, but rather ways of putting herbs together to make a recipe that will work for that person and the health problem that they are experiencing.

As western Herbalists we draw on a long tradition of European herbal practice. This tradition goes back to the ancient Greek physicians who developed  a system of healing which used herbs, diet and lifestyle to return patients to health. As modern medicine has developed over the last few hundred years it has mainly lost its connection with these early roots and has looked towards using chemicals to manipulate the body rather than to work with the body to reurn to it to health. The herbalist will aways attempt to to find ways of getting the body to maintain its own health, using the medicinal plants as a way of strengthening the body rather than attempting to control it. The Human body has evolved to live a long and healthy life, and at any stage in that life to recover from illnesses and disease. Throughout human existance plants have always been foremost in maintaining this vitality and health.

The Western Herbalist has been medically trained to degree level, and uses the knowledge gained in studying modern medicine to help decide on how to work with Herbal medicines. At a consultation not only will the traditional technigues of pulse diagnosis and tongue diagnosis be used, but also blood pressure will be taken, and the results of medical tests be considered. During the first consultation guidance on diet and lifestyle will be provided. The herbalist will have knowledge of the kinds of prescribed medicines a person is using, and will know how to safely use herbs alongside those given  by a doctor.

This is a time when there is a need to ask why with all the resources that developed countries put into pharmaceutical medicine we actually have increasing levels of ill health in the Western world. We need to once again find the ways of looking after ourselves which don't just solve one problem while causing an often equally undesirable side effect.

The basis of modern drugs comes from Herbal medicines, but the more we have moved away from using these plant medicines as nature intended, the more potentially toxic they have become. Using a medicine in its plant form may be gentler and slower, but the effects go deeper and therefore have the chance of resolving the problem rather than just managing a set of symptoms.

The herbs are taken in various forms: liquid extracts, juices, pills and capsules, teas, baths, creams, ointments, and inhalations. The way a herb is used is just as important as the choosing the right herb, and ensuring that the herbal regime is convenient and appropriate for each person is taken into consideration. Babies and children will not be given things which are diffficult to use, and there is little point in prescribing a routine which is difficult or impossible for someone to follow in a busy life.

The first consultation is one and a half hours in length and costs £75.

 Follow up consultations are three quarters of an hour and cost £37.50.

 Herbal medication is usually about £15-£25 per week.