Leftover-Fresh-HerbsNowadays, any avid reader can become an amateur expert herbalist. The internet is awash with information about the healing properties of herbs and how to use them for simple illnesses and complaints. GPs, pharmacists, health food shop assistants and gardeners often have a sound understanding of herbs, and there are numerous books available on the subject. It is widely known, for example, that Echinacea can help the immune system to deal with colds, elderflowers are anti-catarrhal and therefore help with hay fever and the sniffles, sage is good for sore throats, and chamomile calms and restores the digestive system. Garlic has a reputation for being good for just about everything!

With access to so much free knowledge, why do we need Medical Herbalists?

Herbal Medicine comes into its own for complex and long-standing conditions. Treating these conditions requires the ability to identify the underlying cause(s) of symptoms, along with an in-depth understanding of how each herb works, how it interacts with other herbs and how it might affect or be affected by any other medication you are taking.

A qualified Medical Herbalist will have studied for at least four years and have a BSc (Bachelor of Science) degree. They will have undertaken 500 hours of supervised clinical training and be able to assess a patient medically as well as holistically. The level of their training means that they are permitted by law to ‘diagnose’ in the same way as a GP. However, their approach to treatment is very different from that of a GP. It’s more holistic; they place a lot of emphasis on understanding an individual’s constitution. For example, some people feel the cold, others run too hot. Likewise, some people put on weight easily whilst others remain slim regardless of what they eat. Constitutional or traditional prescribing takes account of these tendencies.

What happens in a consultation?

First of all, the Medical Herbalist will take your basic details such as address and date of birth. Then you will be asked to talk about your symptoms – about the reason why you would like treatment. You’ll also be asked about your medical history, current medication, diet, and lifestyle. The Herbalist is looking for signs that indicate how well your body’s organs and systems are working, to discover what has gone wrong and why. They will then prescribe and prepare a herbal treatment. Prescribing herbs is not just about identifying the right herbs; everyone is different so they will need different strengths and quantities. In addition, the Medical Herbalist won’t be treating the immediate symptoms alone. Where appropriate, they also include restorative herbs that are aimed at targeting the wider body systems that are causing or allowing the symptoms to persist. This is what it means to work in a holistic way.

Michaela ScottMichaela Scott is a Western Medical Herbalist. She works at the York Clinic on Monday and Saturday.  To book an appointment or for more information, phone 01904 709688 between 9am and 6pm on weekdays, or between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, email us at email@yorkclinic.com, or use our contact form.  We will respond to you as quickly as possible.

For more information about Michaela and Western Herbs, have a look at Michaela’s website.