Western Herbal Medicine is the use of plants and dietary change to help the body to regain or maintain good health.
Western Herbal Medicine fits easily alongside orthodox medicine. Western (not Chinese) Herbal Medicine uses the same concepts, dividing the body into systems: respiratory, urinary and so on. We understand disease processes in the same way. We share a long history, only diverging in the twentieth century when orthodox medicine chose to use drugs synthesised in a laboratory rather than unchanged plant material.
We use herbs to help the body to heal itself rather than intervening with drugs or surgery. Responses are often slower and less dramatic, but health improvements can be longer lasting because we focus more on the underlying cause than the symptoms. We use unchanged plant material rather than a drug containing one active chemical. One plant may have many beneficial effects without unwanted side-effects: for example Meadowsweet, from which aspirin was first derived, is anti-inflammatory and also soothing to the gut. Pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand are usually designed for one specific purpose but invariably have unwanted side-effects. Because plants are also food, we pay a lot of attention to the patient’s diet. This is particularly helpful in cases of arthritis, candida imbalance, psoriasis and those experiencing menopausal difficulties.
Our degree course includes many of the same subjects as orthodox medicine and 500 hours of clinical practice. We are also required to pass a rigorous practical exam approved by our governing body, the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.
Most western medical herbalists prefer to use herbs from Europe because these plants evolved alongside us and are therefore more likely to suit our constitutions. We have a huge range of herbs to choose from so we can usually find alternatives to endangered species such as Devil’s Claw, which is destroyed when harvested because the medicinal compounds are in the root.
Increasingly scientists are isolating chemicals from herbs and demonstrating their medicinal properties. Hawthorn, for example, has constituents with proven cardio-vascular properties and no side-effects. Such knowledge is a useful addition to the traditional herbal wisdom accumulated over the centuries.
Herbalists and GPs
With good communication there should be no conflict between herbal medicine and orthodox medicine. With your permission we are happy to discuss your problems with your GP and we always encourage you to tell him/her that you are consulting us. We will refer you back to your GP if we think you need tests or drugs we cannot provide.
There is a First Consultation fee of £65. This reflects the full consultation (1 and 1/2 hours) and research after the session. Appointments thereafter are £40 per hour, £28 half an hour. Herbal medicines cost approximately £8 per week - less for children.