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What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal medicine is the use of plant remedies in the treatment of disease and for the improvement of health. It is the oldest form of medicine known, and as much as 80% of the world’s population still depend on herbs. Many of today’s drugs are based on simple constituents extracted from plants, but whole plants contain thousands of chemicals. Herbalists believe that the simple active constituents of plants are balanced, and made safer and more effective by the presence of these other chemicals. Not only are whole plants used, but usually combinations of plants are prepared as formulas specifically designed to meet the needs of the individual client. Our ancestors, perhaps by trial and error, found the most effective local plants to heal their diseases. Now, with the advancement of science enabling us to identify the chemical constituents within these plants, we can begin to understand some of their healing powers. Although modern clinical trials may not be available for many herbal remedies, the herbalist draws on thousands of years of empirical evidence in determining the best remedy. The Herbalist`s Approach Medical Herbalists are trained in many of the same assessment skills as regular doctors, but take a more holistic approach to illness. The underlying cause of the problem in sought and, once identified, it is this which is treated rather than the symptom alone. Suppression of a symptom will not rid the body of a disease, but using remedies to restore the balance of the body will enable it to mobilize its own healing powers. Herbal medicine can be used to treat almost any condition. Common complaints which typically respond well to herbal medicine include skin conditions, digestive complaints and hormonal imbalances. Heart disease, diabetes, headaches and mild to moderate depression can all be treated. Almost all chronic disease is best considered from a herbal and lifestyle perspective before resorting to stronger drugs.
Diane Kent   R.H., M.N.I.M.H. Medical Herbalist
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