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Herbal medicine is a traditional form of healing practiced in many cultures that uses plants as medicine.
The herbs prescribed will vary according to how the herbalist is trained. A western trained herbalist will include plants that more commonly occur in the western hemisphere however they may also use some herbs which were originally from other systems, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda (from India).
Western trained herbalists employ diagnostic techniques that are similar to a G.P. based on an understanding of medicine that is part of the western scientific tradition.
The healing properties of the plants in western herbal medicine are classified and defined by their traditional use, as recorded in herbal texts, as well as through the findings of research currently being conducted on commonly prescribed herbs. The findings of modern research often back up the traditional use of the plants and may provide a detailed profile of the plantís chemical makeup.The effectiveness of the treatment thus depends on the skill of the herbalist in choosing the best remedy for their patient which can be a single herb or an individually made-up combination.
Anyone can benefit from the multitude of ways in which herbs can be used to promote health, particularly when used under the guidance of a fully qualified herbalist.
Common ailments such as coughs and colds, mild fevers, digestive upset and headaches can all be treated with herbs.
Herbs can also be used to treat more complex conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, allergies, arthritis, menopausal symptoms and PMS, as well as helping to alleviate mild depression and anxiety.
As all patients are considered on an individual basis then a treatment plan can be discussed to meet specific needs and a holistic approach is aimed at improving the patientís overall well-being.
I have long been interested in plants and nature since my early childhood in New Hampshire, USA. I decided to study herbal medicine after I had travelled to India and experienced first hand some of the treatments and theory of Ayurveda, however I wanted to learn about the healing properties of the plants we see all around us in Britain. I undertook a four year BSc (Hons) course in Herbal Medicine at Napier University and graduated in November 2006.
For the time being I have decided to stop seeing patients and explore other aspects of herbal medicine such as cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants as well as deepening my understanding and broadening my knowledge of herbal materia medica and botany.
Also recently I have been learning the Clarsach (Scottish Gut Strung Harp) and have been inspired to work on some new creative projects which you can sample at my poetry website.
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Text by Drew McNaughton © Spiritwise Herbs 2008 Last updated January 2014Photos courtesy of Jill McNaughton © 2008