WESTERN HERBAL MEDICINE
Introduction - Consultation Process - Herbal Prescriptions - Suitable Cases
Herbal medicine is the most universal of humanityís therapies; it is also one of the most effective, safe and versatile.
Modern Western Herbal Medicine is founded firmly on the time-tested empirical knowledge of the past, but equally embraces the disciplines of modern medical science. All these various branches of learning are allied under the basic philosophy of Herbal Medicine: to treat the whole person with preparations made from whole plants.
Herbal Medicine is neither suppressive nor invasive; it does not cover up illness by dulling symptoms or force the body into unnatural and unsustainable states. Rather, it activates and supports the innate healing capacity possessed by all living beings, channelling and encouraging it to normalise function, remove toxicity, correct imbalance and repair damage gently, thoroughly and without side-effects.
The Medical Herbalist endeavours to discover and correct the underlying causes of illness, treating the person rather than the disease. This involves a careful and thorough assessment of the health and function of all the body systems, along with the patientís diet, environment, history, and overall state of being.
A consultation with a Medical Herbalist begins with a thorough assessment of the patientís state of health. Once a fundamental personal diagnosis has been made, the practitioner will dispense an individually formulated medicine, together with any relevant advice on diet, exercise and any other areas which affect the patientís present and future health. The end result aimed for is not solely the cure of a particular disease, but rather a return to an overall state of good health and well-being.
Medicines prepared individually for each patient are made using extracts of whole plants, rather than isolated ďactive constituentsĒ. Again and again it has been demonstrated that these whole-plant remedies are safer and more effective than individual chemicals. The complex interactions of the various constituents of medicinal herbs act in concert to produce an effect that is safe, cumulative and deeply healing. Herbal Medicine works with nature, encouraging, supporting and directing the organismís own innate powers of self-healing.
Registered Medical Herbalists can be recognised by the initials MNIMH or FNIMH after their name, signifying membership of The National Institute of Medical Herbalists. This professional body was established in 1864 and is the oldest body of practising medical herbalists in existence today. Membership is by examination after completing a four-year course of training, which covers the full range of medical and botanical sciences. A stipulated period of clinical practice must be completed before the final examination can be taken. All members are required to adhere to a strict code of ethics demanded by the Institute. These letters are a guarantee that you place yourself in safe, trained, confidential and caring hands.
Increasingly, the wisdom of using this gentle, safe and effective form of treatment is being recognised by orthodox medicine. Cases where conventional medicine cannot help, where the drugs on offer cause unacceptable side-effects or risks, or where patients themselves are reluctant to take modern drugs often benefit hugely from complementary treatments such as herbalism. Children, older people or those with high sensitivity to drug therapy are particularly suitable for referral to a Herbalist. Often, a combination of conventional and complementary treatment can provide the best solution.
Evidence of the use of herbal medicine goes back at least to Neanderthal Man over 50, 000 years ago! The fact that this ancient yet ever-advancing therapy is gaining increasing attention today is evidence that it is as relevant to modern humanity as it was to our distant forbears.
Suitable Cases for Treatment
(c) Ned Reiter 2008