Catriona Stewart BA (Hons) MSc MNIMH
Western herbal medicine provides access to a form of health care that is both traditional and modern. It has been used and developed over thousands of years and it has a vital place in contemporary health practice.
A professional medical herbalist treats each patient within a ‘whole’ context; diagnosis and treatment take into account current symptoms, general health, previous medical history, family history, diet, lifestyle and emotional factors.
First consultations are usually about 50 minutes in length, ‘follow-ups’ about 20-25 minutes.
First consultations costs £40
Further appointments cost £25
Medicines cost £5-£6 weekly
The herbalist is a trained professional who will have gained at minimum a science degree or equivalent academic qualification along with 500 hours supervised clinical practice in order to meet the standard required by their professional organisation. The herbalist will have studied anatomy and physiology, disease, medical clinical examination (patients are often surprised when offered to have their blood–pressure taken or asked if the herbalist may listen to their heart or lungs!) as well as herbs. Herbal therapeutics includes the biochemical actions of the plant constituents, dosage and preparation, drug/herb interactions, contraindications and so on.
Hertbal medicine is a valuable and much saught after natural approach to help people with general daily life issues.
What is herbal medicine?
Herbalism is not just a means of healing disease or maintaining health. It is a philosophy, a way of looking at the world. The herbalist’s approach to healing is based on an historical understanding of our connection, as human beings, with the natural world and our environment. It also recognises the importance of the emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives.
Understanding of the role of plants as medicine, along with good diet, exercise, work, leisure and a healthy approach to life, was first recorded in the Western world by medics such as Avicenna and Hippocrates and passed on through the generations to the 21st century. Modern science finds that the traditional use of herbs may be supported by what is found in the laboratory.
Human beings are not laboratory specimens, however, and the role of any kind of medicine in any individual is viewed, in medical herbalism, as part of a wider picture. Each patient is offered detailed dietary and nutritional advice and lifestyle support. Referrals may be made to other health practitioners, if required. Exercise classes, such as Yoga or Tai Chi, bodywork such as massage or Myofascial Release Therapy or counselling, for example, may be recommended as complementary therapy. Patients may be referred to their GP in some circumstances.
The professional herbalist is a member of a recognised accrediting organisation such as the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) or the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CPP). Members of both these organisations have been working with the UK government to develop a system of Statutory Regulation for the practice of medical herbalism in this country. NIMH is the oldest and most widely respected professional body of herbalists in the Western world.