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Herbalism FAQs

Can Herbal Medicine Be Used As First Aid?

Medicinal plants have always been used as natural first aid remedies such as rubbing dock leaves onto nettle stings or applying lavender oil to treat burns. You may also come across herbalists running First Aid stations at outdoor festivals.  The teams are qualified in Advanced First Aid; some are even experienced nurses and paramedics.  Herbs are used to treat a vast array of acute conditions, in both emergency and non-emergency situations, from insect bites to headaches to serious wounds.

Whilst much of this tradition has been lost in modern times, there is a resurgence of public interest in the use of local plants for minor ailments.  Many herbalists run beginners’ courses where you can learn more; from plant identification to making remedies.

Can Herbs And Pharmaceutical Drugs Be Used Together?

There are many instances in which herbs and pharmaceutical drugs work well together.

However, in some situations, there can be negative interactions. Some herbs, like St John’s Wort, cannot be taken along with certain other medicines.  Your medical herbalist is trained to know which herbs to use safely and will be able to advise on any situation.

How Long Will Herbal Treatment Take?

There is no definitive answer because so many variables will influence the duration of treatment. Our biological makeup is as unique as our medical histories and bodies heal at differing rates.

Influential factors affecting length of therapy required include:

  • The condition
  • Severity of the condition
  • How long it has been present
  • Past medical history
  • Drug history
  • Current health status

Your herbalist may be able to give you an estimated guideline once they have taken a detailed case history. It is important that progress is closely monitored and herbal prescriptions are adjusted accordingly over time.

Herbal medicine can sometimes take longer before beginning to achieve their desired effect when compared to pharmaceutical drugs. However, its gentle, supportive action aims to address the root cause of the condition and therefore usually produces more permanent results. In addition, when correctly prescribed, side effects are rare.

Whilst the above is applicable for chronic cases, the right dose of herbs can produce immediate results. Medical herbalists working in First Aid situations often resolve acute issues within hours or days.

As the choice of herbs and appropriate administration are key to safety and efficacy, professional advice is recommended.

Should I Tell My GP And Specialists That I’m Taking Herbs?

We advocate the integrated safe use of medicinal plants for our patients by working with other healthcare practitioners such as GPs, Nurse Practitioners, and specialists. It is very important that all healthcare providers responsible for your care are fully informed about the herbs and drugs you are taking, including over the counter products and food supplements. This is important in order to avoid possible herb/drug/supplement/food interactions. Your Medical Herbalist is aware of the difficulties involved and will provide information on request and with your permission will liaise with any of your other healthcare providers. See also Herbs and Drugs and Information Service

What Happens During A Consultation With A Medical Herbalist?

The first appointment with your Medical Herbalist will find out about your current health complain, take a detailed medical history and perform any necessary diagnostic examinations before suggesting a treatment. The consultation will include a full discussion on all aspects of health. It is helpful if the patient can bring to a consultation any information relating to their condition, including information about any pharmaceutical drugs or food supplements that they may be taking.

At the end of the consultation, a tailor-made healthcare plan will be drawn up. This can include herbal medicines (in alcoholic tincture, tea, capsule or cream form), nutritional supplements, diet and lifestyle recommendations. After this there may be a need for a follow up consultation, to check on progress and to make any necessary adjustments to the healthcare plan.

What Is Your Policy On Animal Testing?

The Institute is opposed to testing of products on animals.