Herbal Medicine (Fridays)
Herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years across many different cultures. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in herbal medicine due to, among other things, increasing resistance to many drugs used in orthodox medicine, and the side effects that often accompany them.
Herbal medicine is also known as phytotherapy, as it is a plant-based therapy. Some herbalists, including Deanne Greenwood, who works here at the Helston Chiropractic Clinic, call themselves Medical Herbalists to denote the fact that they hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Herbal Medicine, and are therefore trained in both medical and plant sciences.
How does herbal medicine work?
The active ingredients found in the leaves, stems, flowers, berries, roots and bark of plants have many different properties. For example, they may be analgesic, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, laxative, stimulating or relaxing. Most plants have a number of different properties and therapeutic actions. Around 25% of pharmaceutical drugs in use today are derived from plants – but there is a big difference between using a synthetic version of a plant extract and using the whole plant!
Herbal medicine is holistic, which means that it supports the whole body, on a physical and emotional level, to effect healing. It aims to get to the root cause of ill health – rather than just treating the symptoms – and discover why a person has become ill. There are usually many factors involved.
Herbalists treat on an individual basis, as no two people are the same, physically or psychologically. This also explains why herbs recommended for one person may be different to those recommended for someone else, even though both people have been labeled with the same ailment!
Herbal medicine works hand-in-hand with dietary and lifestyle factors, which are at the very heart of good health and healing.
What can Herbal medicine be used for?
Herbal medicine can help relieve a wide variety of conditions affecting the digestive, respiratory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, reproductive, nervous and immune systems including
Heavy, painful periods, PMS, difficulties conceiving
Hot flushes and other symptoms of menopause
DEpression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia
Arthritic and other musculoskeletal pain and inflammation
Bronchial congestion, sinusitis, hayfever
Constipation, flatulence, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome
Persistent coughs, colds and fatigue
Poor memory and concentration
Headaches, migraine, neuralgia, tinnitus
Skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema and acne
Herbal medicine can be used alongside conventional medication, and a qualified herbalist will be aware of any possible interactions.
Is there any scientific research to support herbal medicine?
There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence regarding the efficacy and safety of herbal medicine. Examples of positive clinical trials in recent years include:
St John’s wort for mild-moderate depression, premenstrual symptoms, wound-healing
Ginkgo biloba for senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, dizziness and tinnitus, memory
Black cohosh for menopausal symptoms including hot flushes
Boswellia for osteoarthritis
Willow bark for low back pain
Nettle for urinary problems associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Hawthorn for reducing high blood pressure
I also have a ‘satellite’ website dedicated to the menopause. My aim is to provide a source of information and advice regarding diet and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies, to help you manage this natural transition in your life. You’ll find it at www.naturalhelpformenopause.uk
‘The menopause is kind of like the ocean… a sea of change. You have to roll with it as it ebbs and flows, explore its hidden depths, appreciate its breadth and all the new and exciting places it could take you.’