Herbal medicine takes an holistic approach to health care, using plant-derived medicine to treat the whole person and not just the symptoms. It emphasises the individual and the importance of tailoring treatment to suit each person's needs. A unique combination of several herbs are prescribed to support each patient. For example, if treating a chest infection, antiseptic herbs would be used to clear the infection, as well as herbs which are expectorant (which means that they thin mucous in the lungs allowing it to be coughed up more easily). Herbs which support the immune system and adrenals may also be used, as well as herbs which support other organs/systems to aid elimination.
Herbalists believe that using the whole plant is more effective than using individual constituents, and that any potential side effects are reduced. However, some plants should be avoided in people with certain health complaints and who are taking certain drugs. Medical herbalists are trained to use plants both safely and effectively, and consider both your health problems and the medication you are taking.
The aim of the treatment is to address the cause of the problem and not simply treat your symptoms. Herbalists are trained in diagnosic skills, can use a wide range of medicinal plants, and are also able to recognize when a condition is best referred to other healthcare practitioners.
I hold a 1st class honors degree in herbal medicine (BSc Herbal Medicine) and I am currently studying for an MSc in Herbal Medicine. My degree training involved the study of anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, clinical diagnosis, pathology, physiology, nutrition and clinical training.
My clinical training involved 500 hours in which I conducted consultations under the supervision of a clinical tutor (an experienced herbalist). To achieve my degree I needed to demonstrate to a medical doctor and a herbalist (the President of N.I.M.H.) that I could diagnose illnesses, perform clinical examinations, create a prescription protocol, and use herbal medicines both effectively and safely.
I was awarded The Phyto Products Award for Pharmacology for the year 2008-9 by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (N.I.M.H.). I won my award for my dissertation work; in which I analysed the role and mechanisms of action of phytoestrogens (plant oestrogens found in plants such as Red Clover and Soya) in breast cancer.
Previous to studying herbal medicine I obtained a degree in Fine Art - Painting and exhibited for a number of years.