Plants have been the basis for medical treatments throughout human history, and are as such the traditional medicine of many cultures. Much of this millennial-old and proven knowledge has been left behind in the wake of modern-day medicine, with exception of certain little home remedies that have transcended generations.
However, with increasing chronic issues that plague our modern civilisation (and remain poorly addressed by current standard medical care), and due to scientific work that is re-discovering the validity and power of plant medicines, our old herbal remedies are re-gaining their rightful place in our daily healthcare.
Herbal medicine’s sweet spot are a range of chronic ailments or chronic long-term conditions that have not responded to standard medical intervention. Herbs can help to balance the body’s physiology and strongly support the innate healing process;; thus they have the proven potential to shift a person’s constitution and wellbeing in a lasting manner.
Herbs/botanicals can be used at various levels to support health and constitution:
- As food (e.g. cooking spices, vegetables) to strengthen our constitution;
- As tonics (e.g. teas, juices, supplements) to tonify certain aspects of our physiology;
- As stronger-acting preparations (e.g. extracts, powdered herbs) to aid with distinct chronic conditions.
What is Herbal Medicine not?
Herbal Medicine is NOT a replacement for standard medical care, nor for important life-saving medication or medical intervention as ordered by your physicians or therapists.
Herbs can only rarely provide a quick-fix for symptoms, they address the root of an issue and support a longer-term healing process to re-gain an equilibrium that was also lost over a longer time period. Successful herbal protocols typically require several months, in some cases even years, depending on the person and their respective issues and circumstances.
It is important to note that herbal medicine (phytotherapy) is NOT an “alternative medicine” discipline (like e.g. homeopathy), but is an old and proven part of scientifically based medicine, and as such is documented in national pharmacopeias across the world. The active ingredient of a plant is defined as the totality of its constituents, and it is this gentle mixture of components that gives herbs their unique power to aid us with multi-factorial chronic ailments.
Traditional herbal medicines are naturally occurring, plant-derived substances with minimal or no industrial processing that ideally are selected, prepared, combined and applied to the specific person. In contrast, “Phytopharmaka”, in which a plant or plant ingredient is used as a small component in creating a processed product for mass sale as supplement, have limited usefulness in this context.
In their Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023 the WHO calls for developing proactive policies and implementing action plans in their member states that will strengthen the role traditional medicine plays in keeping populations healthy, fully understanding and predicting that orthodox medicine by itself cannot succeed in this task.
In many Western countries, herbalists (even the ones educated at university level) are limited in directly aiding people with their knowledge by a myriad of regulations and laws. While in the English-speaking countries an herbalist is an accepted profession with freedom to practice, in most other European countries this is not the case, and lots of this ennormous health potential is lost to many in need. To prevent that, most herbalists are also actively engaged in teaching and educating, and so keeping this ancient important knowledge – that belongs to all of us – alive.