What is Herbal Medicine?
The use of herbs as medicine is an ancient healing art. From the earliest times, people (and other animals) have sought out plants for their nourishing and healing properties. Over the last decade, people have begun to rediscover the powerful benefits of plants. Today, herbal medicine combines traditional understanding of the beneficial nature of plants with modern science.
Also known as Phytotherapy (‘phyto’ is Greek for plant), western herbal medicine involves the use of whole plants or their parts (seeds, leaves, roots, fruits, etc.), as well as other organisms (funghi, lichen), to assist the body's natural protective and healing mechanisms. Herbal medicine is the use of these medicinal beings to prevent or treat disease, promote and sustain health, and even enhance natural beauty.
Most herbs are safe and gentle, yet they are still powerful medicines. It is important to always speak to a qualified herbal practitioner when seeking out the medicinal use of herbs. This will increase not only the safety of the treatment, but also the success rate.
What does a herbalist do?
A herbalist, or phytotherapist, is a holistic health care practitioner who uses plants and other elements from nature to promote healing, prevent illness, and improve overall health and happiness. A herbalist works with a client on a physical, psychological, and emotional level, addressing the client's needs and exploring the underlying concern while also treating the symptoms. Herbalists use nutritional and lifestyle guidance as well to create a well-rounded ongoing self-care plan for a client.
A herbalist can work alone or alongside conventional or integrative practitioners in order to reach a holistic and effective treatment plan for a client. The herbalist will custom design a herbal formula, which may come in the form of a tincture (alcohol extract of herbs), capsules, dried herbs for tea or decoctions, ointments, or other preparations.
Herbalists can assist people with almost any health concern or goal. Below are just some of the areas that can be improved by working with a herbalist.