Western Herbal Medicine
Western Herbal Medicine (WHM) is a form of the healing arts that draws from herbal traditions of Europe and the Americas. It emphasises the study and use of European and Native American herbs in the treatment and prevention of illness.
Herbal medicine is the oldest form of healing known. Possibly massage is older because it is an instinctive response to rub ourselves when we hurt, but from archaeological and anthropological evidence it is certain that even our most primitive forbears made use of the abundance of plants around them to treat their many and varied ailments.
Their intimate connection to the earth may have enabled these people to communicate in some way with the plants, through techniques such as deep contemplation, ritual and ceremony, and so to gain insight into their therapeutic uses.
What are the benefits Western Herbal Medicine?
Many plant extracts contain powerful active ingredients; they may, for example, have antibiotic, anti-inflammatory or anti-viral properties but they are used by herbalists in a different way from the way doctors use conventional drugs.
In other words, they are not designed simply to alleviate symptoms but also to restore the body’s natural state of balance so that it can deal with the underlying cause of the symptoms.
This effect is achieved by careful selection of the appropriate remedies, bearing in mind not only the important active ingredients but also the plant’s secondary components, which play a role in the healing process.
What does a typical WHM appointment look like?
The fact that herbalism is a holistic therapy means that a practitioner will need a great deal of information before deciding how to treat a particular individual. It is likely that, as well as prescribing remedies, the herbalist will give you advice about a nutrition and any other lifestyle changes that may be needed to improve your general wellbeing.
It is important to tell the herbalist who is treating you about any other medication you are currently taking, whether on prescription or bought over the counter, as some remedies may interact with orthodox medicines.
Equally important, you should make sure that any doctor treating you knows that you are already taking or are intending to take a particular herbal remedy. If you decide to treat yourself rather than consult a trained herbalist, it is a wise precaution to consult your GP if you have a long-standing condition and/or are currently taking any medication prescribed by him or her.
How do I find a specialist that suits me?
WHM practitioners may specialise in treating certain issues or ailments. You may want to consider what you want to address, and then search for a practitioner specialising in that field.
Additionally, as with any holistic discipline which requires you to provide personal information to your practitioner, you will want to make sure that you are comfortable with them. It is good practice to contact them before you make an appointment.