medicine uses plant extracts to treat all manner of ailments. It is among
the oldest forms of healing known, and, according to the World Health
Organisation is still the most widely used form of medicine throughout the
to the European tradition of herbal medicine is the view that the body has
an innate tendency to heal itself. A herbalist will use plant extracts to
help this process, and to help provide the optimum conditions for it to occur.
herbs can encourage healthy organ and tissue function, improve circulation,
improve immune system function, enhance digestion and assimilation of food,
and provide essential nutrients.
when people take herbal medicines to treat a specific condition, they often
notice an improvement in their general health as well as amelioration of
the symptoms that prompted them to seek treatment.
many pharmaceutical drugs used today are based on plant constituents, herbalists
prefer to use extracts from a whole part of the plant (e.g. leaves, root,
berries etc.). This is because plants are complex organisms, made up of thousands
of constituents, and often the medicinal action of a whole plant extract
cannot be attributed to a single constituent. It is also true that whole
plant extracts tend to have fewer unwanted effects ('side effects') than
What to expect from your
first consultation will last about 1 ½ hours, during which time a full
case history is taken, with details of symptoms, general health, medical
history, diet, exercise and any other background information. There may be
some physical examination, for example measurement of pulse and blood pressure,
and any other examination that is relevant for you.
will give you an individualised herbal prescription, based on your case history.
This is most often in the form of a liquid medicine called a tincture.
will also discuss diet and lifestyle, suggesting changes where appropriate.
appointments are usually monthly, though this may vary. At these appointments
the herbalists will monitor your progress, discuss any ongoing concerns,
and modify your prescription if necessary.
of treatment is that you will feel better, and will ultimately be able to
stop taking the herbal medicine and maintain improved health and well being.
This is usually possible, though for most chronic conditions it will take
Who can benefit from
medicine can be used to treat almost any condition that you might take to
your doctor. Common complaints treated by herbalists include skin problems
(e.g. eczema, psoriasis) and digestive problems (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome,
diverticulitis, indigestion). Gynaecological complaints such as premenstrual
syndrome and menopausal problems often respond well to herbal medicine, as
do conditions such as angina, arthritis, asthma, hayfever, headaches and
are well suited to the treatment of children, as they are gentle and well
as being used in chronic problems, herbs are also very effective in acute
conditions such as cystitis, influenza or tonsillitis.
medicines provide gentle and effective treatment for a wide variety of medical
conditions, both addressing specific symptoms and improving general health.
Herbalist is Clare Dobie.