What happens during a consultation with a Medical Herbalist?
Your first consultation will usually take at least an hour as your medical herbalist finds out about your current health complaint and takes a detailed medical history from you.
Your medical history will include information on allergies, family history, diet and lifestyle. If necessary, your medical herbalist may make a physical examination and check your pulse and blood pressure. They may also ask for details of urine or blood tests or other medical procedures you have had or plan to have.
Your medical herbalist will then make a diagnosis based on what they have found. They may refer you on to another practitioner, or back to your GP if they feel it is necessary. They will then discuss a programme of herbal treatment with you and go over how long they think the treatment may take and the level of treatment required. These things will all vary depending on your condition. They may also discuss changes to your diet, exercise regime and lifestyle and agree goals with you.
Your medical herbalist will then make up a herbal prescription designed just for you and will dispense this with any instructions you may need. A follow up consultation will usually take less time (typically around 30 minutes) and your herbalist will assess your progress and may make changes to your herbal prescription if required.
Treatment can last from a single appointment to several weeks or months depending on the patient's condition. Some patients continue to take herbal medicine in the long term.
Herbs & Drugs
The benefits of pharmaceutical drugs cannot be denied. Infectious diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis are now treatable and diabetes is often no longer fatal. However, by the end of the last century problems began to emerge:
- side effects at times outweighed potential benefits
- new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria emerged
- there was a re-emergence of diseases thought to have been eliminated – such as TB.
- Thousands of people began to die of iatrogenic* disease in hospitals each year (*iatrogenic: illness caused by medical examination or treatment). (see 'Counting the hidden victims of medicine', article in New Scientist magazine, January 2014)
- drug dependence and addiction worsened
- the need arose for polypharmacy to deal with adverse side effects
- spiralling costs increased the financial burden on the NHS
Herbal medicine, when prescribed by a qualified medical herbalist, can provide a safe alternative to some of the pharmaceutical medicines in use today. Medical herbalists often use herbs to reduce some of the side effects from pharmaceutical treatment, reducing the need for polypharmacy and the toxic load on the body. Herbal medicine is also a much cheaper alternative than many pharmaceutical drugs.
Source: The National Institute of Medical Herbalists.