Herbal medicine has been around for centuries, with evidence of its practice traced as far back as the Paleolithic era. Recently is has seen a resurgence as a growing number of people take ownership of their health, explore alternatives to conventional medicine and look for a more personalised approach in all areas of their lives.
Systems of Herbal Medicine
Our orthodox medicine practices are closely intertwined with herbal medicine as our medicines were all derived from natural sources until the nineteenth century. Herbal medicine practices differ widely across different cultures and encompass diverse medical systems globally, including Ayurveda in India, Unani tibb from the Islamic world, Traditional Chinese medicine, and native American herbalism, which led to the Western Herbal medicine Eclectic tradition in the United states.
Herbal medicine is still used by approximately 80% of the world’s population to treat and prevent disease, although it is estimated at ninety five percent in developing nations. Approximately seventy percent of French and German doctors regularly prescribe herbal medicine.
Herbal Medicine in the Modern Day
The World Organization has documented trends towards traditional medicine being uniquely placed to support today’s current health challenges in the face of rising healthcare costs and dwindling budgets as it allows the focus to be on the prevention and management of lifestyle-related chronic health issues. Unlike repeated use of antibiotics which can lead to antibiotic resistance, there is a growing interest in the use of medicinal plants and their metabolites to combat multi-drug resistance.
Finding the Right Herbalist
Although there are many herbal medicine products available on the market, there is little standardization of herbal products or quality control, which is why it’s crucial to see a qualified phytotherapist such as Carolina, who has an excellent understanding of biochemistry, pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics and will always check potential interactions. When used properly, herbs are extremely safe, have far fewer side-effects than medications and can be used to strategically enhance the activity of other compounds in our food, nutraceuticals and medications.
What is a herb?
An herb is a seed-producing annual, biennial or perennial plant that does not develop persistent woody tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season. It is a plant, or the part of a plant valued for its medicinal or aromatic qualities, high in phytochemicals. The phytochemicals we value for their medicinal properties are produced by the plant in response to their environment.
Phytochemical constituents are bioactive compounds found in plants which give the plant its therapeutic actions, and in understanding these constituents and how they may affect the body, we gain a much more comprehensive of a plant’s actions, as well as possible interactions with other herbs, supplements, and medications.
How are herbal remedies taken?
Herbs may be used singly or mixed together as formulas and may be taken as ‘tisanes’ (tea infusions or decoctions), powders or encapsulated capsules, or made into alcohol-based tinctures or other liquid preparations such as glycerites for children, honey and electuaries. They may also be applied externally in creams, ointments, topical oils and poultices. Carolina’s endobiogeny training means she is able to recommend essential oils in oral, nebulised and topical blends.
All herbal formulations are uniquely tailored to the patient’s individual needs.