I have had the privilege of being a practising medical herbalist since 2006. The most consistent question I get asked is what is a medical herbalist?
When you attend a medical herbalist they will sit down with you and have a thorough consultation during which they will ask questions about your current and past state of health.
A record of your diet and lifestyle will be taken and physical examinations where appropriate will be carried out, for example;
- taking blood pressure
- looking in your ears
- listening to your heart and lungs
- check urine for infection
A medical herbalist can also carry out other clinical evaluations which a regular doctor would do to assess your musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and nervous system.
Medical reports and/or blood test will be interpreted. Medical Herbalists are trained to identify any potential interactions between conventional drugs and herbal medicines and to know when a condition is best referred to a doctor or another therapist.
Treatment plans are a collaboration between the patient and the therapist in achieving your agreed health goal this can require change, often these are dietary and/or lifestyle changes. If dietary changes are required you will be fully supported and a nutritional report will be prepared for you.
Another question I regularly get asked, I can get advice in my health food shop/pharmacy for free and buy herbs there, why should I come to you…?
Staff at all levels in chemists and health shops with the best of intentions may often rely on general information that is not always appropriate for the patient’s complex personal history. This can lead to side-effects from an unbalanced combination of herbs, or from negative interaction with any prescription medication being taken.
Shop-bought and non-professional herbal products are almost always of a weaker strength and dosage. These products may contain the incorrect species of herb, or the wrong part of the herb, or are manufactured with an inappropriate extraction method. Therefore, many people feel that herbs do not work for them, or they do not get the results they expect.
Legal requirements, safety and confidentiality
Only a qualified Medical Herbalist is licensed to obtain and dispense the highest strength and purest quality herbal medicines and supplements from the most reliable sources. Some of the very strongest herbs that are beneficial for acute health conditions are only available by prescription from a Medical Herbalist.
Each herbal prescription legally requires an initial face-to-face consultation with a trained herbalist.
All professionally prescribed herbal medicines will be significantly more effective than any non-practitioner versions. They will be safely chosen for your unique circumstances, in conjunction with any other medicines that you may be taking.
Your herbalist can also ensure that you are using the medicine correctly, monitor your progress, and adjust your prescription in response to your individual progress.
A consultation with a medical herbalist and medical information are subject to the same confidentiality as with your GP.