Western Herbal Medicine is the study and use of medicinal herbs to prevent and treat diseases or to promote health and wellbeing.
The Western Herbal Medicine practitioner prescribes herbal medicine treatments in a variety of different forms (tinctures, tablets/capsules, teas, ointments/creams) and provides basic dietary guidelines to manage a range of health conditions.
Western herbalism is characterised by a person-centred approach, where the patient rather than the disease is the focus of the practitioner’s attention. The background to the patient’s condition is assessed through a thorough case history, taking into account: family history, personal health history and lifestyle choices. Thereafter, therapy is directed at the causes, not just the presenting symptoms. The practitioner uses the information obtained during consultation to make an assessment of the all round well being and constitution of the patient.
The choice of herbs that will be used in the prescription is based on this assessment. The prescription, rather than being based simply on the diagnosis of a disease or condition at large, is determined by an understanding of the significance of the signs and symptoms that each individual presents. Therefore, prescriptions may vary drastically between individual patients who apparently present with a similar condition. Herbal treatment is commonly backed up by appropriate advice on lifestyle, particularly nutrition and exercise.
Western herbal medicine is also largely linked to the law “The Doctrine of Signatures”. Whereby, certain foods resemble different parts of the human body and infact largely benefit those particular organs. An example of this is: A sliced carrot has the characteristics of the human eye, portraying a pupil, iris and radiating lines. Science now proves that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to the eyes enhancing its function.