“If I wasn’t a Medical Herbalist I’d be really confused about the difference between a Medical Herbalist and someone who knows lots about herbs. Many people know about the healing properties of herbs and how to use them for simple, self limiting complaints. Some GPs, pharmacists, health food shop assistants, gardeners, amateur experts, avid readers and those who have undertaken short term study all might have a sound understanding of herbs and their individual actions in the body. Most people with a knowledge of herbs can tell you that Echinacea is good for helping the immune system deal with colds, that Elderflowers are anti-catarrhal and therefore help with hayfever and the sniffles, and that Garlic has a reputation for helping just about everything ;o) ! It’s pretty common knowledge among many that Sage is used to rub on stings, that Thyme tea might help coughs and Chamomile is calming and restoring to the digestive system.”
I hold workshops, distance learning courses, and herb walks to make sure we all know what herbs to pick from the wild, our gardens and the kitchen to use for simple, self limiting complaints. I also have some free downloads that cover simple remedies, herbal cosmetics, and much more.
Why the need for a Medical Herbalist?
“I’m all for people using ‘herbal first aid’ and trying simple remedies to see if that might help. In fact, if I think that’s all that’s necessary I’m likely to suggest you try it before booking an appointment. However, herbal medicine really comes into its own for more complex, long standing and difficult conditions.”
What makes a qualified Medical Herbalist different?
“We study for 4 years, and have a Bachelor of Science degree. It is compulsory to undertake 500 hours supervised clinical training and be able to assess the patient medically as well as holistically. It’s vital to have medical as well as traditional knowledge, as primary health care professionals we need to be able to spot any danger signs of serious undiagnosed conditions and refer on where necessary.”
What happens in a consultation?
Initial consultations last approximately an hour and will cover not only the problem that you have come with, but also your past medical history, diet and general health. I will carry out a physical examination if appropriate (blood pressure and pulse will always be taken) and formulate individual herbal medicines for your needs. I may also refer you to other practitioners, including your GP, if appropriate.
The key difference when you go to see a medical herbalist instead of buying herbs from a health food shop is the individual prescription that is tailored to you. As each person is different, so too is every medicine made. A medical herbalist may have a dispensary of hundreds of herbs to choose from and combine together, whereas a health food shop only has a handful.