The Oldest Form of Medicine …
Herbal Medicine, that is using plants to treat health conditions, is one of the oldest forms of medicine. Herbal Medicine as a practice and discipline has evolved and traveled alongside the development and growth of human civilization. Some herbal medicine practiced developed in Ancient Greece are as effective in the Modern World as they were in the Ancient World. Much herbal medicine knowledge was originally gleaned from Indigenous Cultures across the Globe and learning from observing what plants animals ate when they were ill.
Modern Western Medicine relies heavily on prescription drugs to manage health conditions however this practice is relatively recent and has only become widespread since the 1980’s. Many drugs, such as Aspirin made from Willow Bark, are manufactured directly from plants or from synthetic copies of the therapeutic components of plant material, such as Valium.
Modern Herbal Medicine combines traditional practice wisdom collected from generations of human experience with current scientific research and knowledge base of the therapeutic effects herbs haveon the human body. It is, therefore, both an Art and a Science.
How is Modern different from Traditional Herbal Medicine?
Herbal Medicine sees the body and the mind together as a dynamic complex system which maintains homeostasis and health via multiple feedback mechanisms. These feedback mechanisms can become weakened or impaired due to difficulty adapting to multiple circumstances encountered in the business of living. The body could encounter a pathogen like the influenza virus or a social situation of extreme stress such as ongoing conflict in a close relationship.
A Herbalist will be as much interested in your state of mind as the functioning of your body. If the mind-body system is unable to adapt to the disruption of homeostasis and restore equilibrium by itself, symptoms will develop. Symptoms can develop in either the mind or the body and are a clue, for the Herbalist, pointing to the specific area of the mind-body system that needs help adapting. A Herbal Medicine Prescription will target treatment to restoring the functioning of key feedback mechanisms and then let the body do the rest, that is restore health and functioning.
Herbal Medicine sees the functioning of the whole Mind-Body system as being greater than the sum of the parts whereas Modern Medicine focuses more on the function of individual parts of the system. Modern Medicine will treat disorders in the body and mind separately, and approaches understanding the human body the way a mechanic understand as car, like a machine. Treatment focuses on controlling, managing and eliminating the expression of the body symptom using pharmaceutical or surgical intervention. An example of this would be blood pressure medication which dilates or relaxes the blood vessels in the circulatory system. This causes the blood pressure to drop.
What can Herbal Medicine help with?
A Herbal Medicine approach can treat any condition that impairs your overall health and functioning, however like all approaches in medicine results can and do vary depending several factors such as;
- How long you have had the condition
- How severe your symptoms are
- How frequently you experience symptoms
- How committed you are to recovering
Herbal Medicine is suitable to treat both Acute and Chronic conditions as well as being taken along side a course of Western Medical treatment as an additional support therapy.
In general, the Herbalist will prescribe a course of treatment that assists the body do better, what it already knows how to do. Bodies are excellent at repairing themselves and managing disruptions to their homeostasis, but sometimes – they need a little nudge. Herbs are great helpers to nudge the body towards healing and recovery.
‘Disorders of Assimilation’ and ‘Disorders of Reaction, Rejection and Removal’ are common presentations herbs are well equipped to assist the body do what it does best, balance and heal.
Herbal Medicine also combines well with counselling and is a viable option for support in situations where pharmacotherapy is not preferred or not possible due to the discomfort associated with side effects. Medicare Rebates are available for Psychological Consultations.