Herbal medicine is the use of plant remedies in the prevention and treatment of disease. It is one of the oldest forms of medicine and, from a global perspective, is still the most common form of medicine practised today.
The history of Western herbal medicine, as opposed to Oriental herbal medicine, can betraced back to both the herbal traditions of the indigenous inhabitants of the British Isles, and to the Greeks and Romans. More recently, international travel and cross-cultural exchange has broadened the frame of reference of Western herbal medicine. It is common to find plants from all over the world, such as Ginseng from Asia, being used regularly by Western herbalists.
Unlike orthodox medicine, where drugs are targeted at specific symptoms and diseases, Western herbal medicine is very much focused on the individual. It is the patient who is the focus for the practitioner, not the disease or illness.The herbalist will assess the patient holistically, considering their personal health history, lifestyle and family history.
Using this information, they will assess the all round well-being and constitution of the patient.
The herbal therapy they prescribe is then directed at the underlying cause of the illness as it presents itself in that particular patient, not just the obvious symptoms. Because of this person-centred approach, it is common for prescriptions to vary between patients with similar illnesses.
The actual herbal treatment is often backed up with advice on lifestyle and nutrition. It is an individual, personal approach that means Western herbal medicine is suitable for everyone, from the young to the old, delivering a safe, effective and research-based approach to healthcare.
Herbs can be used separately or blended together for individual prescriptions. They can be taken as tinctures, teas, tablets or capsules. Herbal creams and ointments are prepared for external use for skin conditions or for joint complaints to assist with the relief of inflammation during treatment.
The effects of Herbal Medicine can be felt quite quickly with some acute conditions but more time sometimes has to be allowed for chronic conditions that have manifested over several months or years, although some relief from symptoms may be felt early intreatment.
A holistic approach is taken towards healing and seeking to find the underlying cause of disease rather than looking at only easing the symptoms. The aim of treatment is to restore your health and prevent disease. Advice on diet, nutrition and lifestyle will also be included as part of the course of treatment.