Many people don't understand herbal medicine: What it is, the philosophies behind treatment and the benefits it can offer both medicinally and to maintain health and vitality. Often confused with other natural, esoteric therapies, herbal medicine is a healing modality in it's own right. Now day's registration regulations are stricter than ever before and the old stories of quacks and shysters are rarely heard.
Many people are under the misconception that herbal medicine covers a wide range of therapies: Chinese medicine, naturopathy, homeopathy, flower essences, reiki and nutrition are often confused with western herbalism. While Chinese medicine is probably the closest to herbal medicine, the names, key actions and preparations for the herbs are different. Chinese medicine also derives medicines from minerals and animals, not just plants. Flower essences relate to dew being collected from flowers via a ritualistic process, and homeopathics are weak solutions of plant, mineral or animal preparations. The principles behind homeopathic treatments are very complex and completely different to herbal medicine, and nutrition deals with obtaining nourishment through everyday food. A naturopath is someone who has a broad understanding of all these modalities and can therefore determine the best treatment for your particular problem.
No practitioner will know herbs like a herbalist, and now days herbal medicine courses can range from one to five years. College degrees are staring to be offered, and the future shows signs of an amalgamation between general practitioners and herbalists. Medical centers are being set up with doctors and herbalists practicing side by side and inter-referring patients between each other. Herbs for healing are finally beginning to receive the acknowledgment they deserve!
The philosophy behind herbal medicine is a holistic one: herbalists don't treat diseases, they treat patients, and their creed is to “do no harm". This means instead of giving the patient something to attack and kill an illness, they will prescribe to enhance the whole body's systems, enabling it to heal itself. Herbs used are completely harmless, and could be added to your food if you liked. Where pharmaceuticals are full of residues and side effects, herbs are gentle and effective while being healthy and cleansing for the body as a whole.
The best thing about seeing a herbalist is they won't simply give you a prescription and send you on your way, hoping not to see you again until next time you are unwell. A herbalist is almost like a personal trainer, but they are a wellness maintainer, and when you start to feel on top of the world again they can help you to stay there. Initially you may visit them fortnightly to work on some problem you have been having and when it is resolved they can give you a large supply of herbs for whatever you need and see you again in a couple of months.
Let's say for example you visited them because you had a problem with reoccurring sinus infections, and they gave you a two week supply of herbs. You return in a fortnight, they re-assess how you are responding to the treatments, make up new herbs for a month and off you go. One month goes by and you are feeling 100% better, and you begin to wonder if there is any reason to return for your appointment. This is where so many people miss out on the true benefits of the herbalist, and going back will mean they can give you more herbs for other things like insomnia, constipation, energy, PMT or memory. Your herbalist can work with you long term to have your body in peak performance so you don't get sick again.
Herbal medicine is, in many ways, a mystery, and although scientists have conducted studies to prove efficacy of the treatments, their roots lie in traditional medicine that dates back through the ages. Herbs are gift from our creator, and they can be used to reverse the damage caused from falling prey to unnatural living. When you start taking herbal medicines in place of pharmaceuticals you will be likely to never need to go to the doctor again! Support your health and work with a herbalists to work with your body, which is the natural and gentle way to health and healing.
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