The Natural Centre

About Herbal Medicine

The roots of herbal medicine can be traced back thousands of years to the ancient civilizations of Greece, India and China, and beyond.  However, human beings have used plants as foods and medicines since time immemorial, and every society and civilization has always had those who were skilled in the use of plants for the benefit of their community. 

The Western herbal tradition goes at least as far back as 450BCE, the time of Hippocrates.  Hippocrates is credited with being the “father of medicine”, because he was one of the first to formulate and rationalize a system of medicine based upon the sciences of observation and classification.  Much can still be learned from the study of Hippocrates, and Western Herbal Medicine has been directly influenced by his teachings. “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food”, and “It is more interesting to know the person behind the disease, than to know the name of the disease” are two aphorisms attributed to Hippocrates.

Today, herbalists are keen to point out that herbs are not simply ‘soft’ replacements for drugs, but powerful holistic healers in their own right.  The fact that the pharmaceutical industry has often used plants as source materials tends to hide the fact that herbs were in use before we even knew what a chemical was!  Today’s herbalists use plants with a knowledge of their complex biochemistry, which acts synergistically to facilitate many dimensions of healing, but also with an understanding of their “energetics” - the traditional understanding of the special properties that characterize them, and the way they make us feel.

A consultation with a herbalist will start with the taking of a case history - a series of questions about your health, current symptoms and past medical events, including medication.  We will want to know about your eating patterns, whether you exercise, if there is any particular stress in your life.  We will also ask you about your family health history.

On the basis of this information, and other diagnostic factors, we will make recommendations about treatments that can help you.  We have a fully stocked herbal dispensary and will be able to make you up a remedy on the spot if appropriate, but we will also give you a lot of advice on what you can do to regain and maintain your health using foods, simple herbal remedies and lifestyle changes.

Choosing a professional herbalist to guide your treatment plan avoids the pitfalls of self-medication, and ensures that you also have a professionally informed overview of the possible interactions of herbal medicines with pharmaceutical medicines, other healthcare products, and other forms of treatment.  Today’s professional herbalists are trained to a very high standard to know not only what is effective in a given situation, what is clinically validated according to up-to-date research, but also what is contraindicated in certain diseases or individuals, and when to refer to a medical practitioner.

Herbalists are regulated, at present voluntarily, by self-governing professional bodies, See the Contacts page for links to the relevant regulatory bodies.