What is herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is the study or practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants and herbal medicines are prescribed for the prevention and treatment of a person in a state of disease or illness. Herbalism is much bigger than the simple prescribing of herbs for an ailment. Herbalism includes botany, medicine making, understanding our environment, understanding the connection between plants and people and how to grow, harvest, store, use and assess plant medicines.
A medical herbalist is someone trained in plant medicine, with clinical skills, including a high level in diagnosis. Herbalists use a holistic approach to treatment and have a long history in the UK. The study of herbalism can range from workshops to small courses, apprenticeships and degree courses. Herbal medicine in the UK has various professional bodies, the oldest of which is the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH).
Using herbs and plants for health is the most ancient form of medicine, and in fact remains the most common form of medicine in use today. The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of the global population rely at least partially on herbal medicines for their primary health care needs, and the use of herbal remedies is so widespread that most people do not even realize that they are using them. For example, common herbs and spices added to food frequently aid the digestion, and most people know that dock leaves will ease a nettle sting, and that putting vinegar on a wasp sting will relieve the pain.
Medicinal herbs can easily be found growing in the wild, and can be ethically collected or cultivated. Throughout history, herbalists have gathered medicinal plants from local woodland and fields, and have also imported herbs and spices from abroad. Herbal wisdom has been passed down from generation to generation, and from teacher to student.
Herbal medicine may be used to work with physical/physiological, emotional and energetic or spiritual ailments. The medicines can also be used constitutionally, working with the bodily and personality traits of the individual. Some herbalists also work with the stars, incorporating astrology and other tools into their practice. It is a wide art form and there are many different nuances of use. You’ll find what you are attracted to and blossom.
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