Herbal medicine is the use of plant remedies in the treatment of disease. It is the oldest form of medicine known. Western Herbal medicine is one of the great herbal traditions of the world. This herbal healing system uses local plants and others sourced mainly from European and North American traditions and is different to Chinese medicine. It is based on a naturopathic view of health and disease which stresses the importance of the need for a balance of nutrition, elimination and coordination in both the cells and whole person. This tradition is practiced by most members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, the oldest body of practicing medical herbalists in the world.
Members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists are trained to degree level or equivalent in medical sciences , therapeutics and materia medica. Researchers are now re-assessing the value of traditional remedies by subjecting them to clinical trials. Much evidence now exists for the subtle and complex nature of many herbal remedies. Herbs have many actions that are not easily compared to pharmaceutical drugs. Many remedies are renown for offering support for weakened organs and systems and gentle stimulation of detoxification. Others promote digestive functions and nervous system balance.
It is important to recognise the difference between the healing art called Herbal Medicine – relying on the understanding of the practitioner who successfully uses herbs for healing, and their tools – the herbal medicines, the medicinal plants that many people grow, collect or buy over the counter. While self medication works well for many simple or acute conditions it often fails to deal with the complex web of connected imbalances at the root of chronic disease. A skilled and experienced herbalist is invaluable in these circumstances.
Most cultures have a tradition of herbal knowledge. Some still value it highly, others having cast it aside in favour of modern synthetic drugs and others are able to successfully interweaving the two into a system of “integrated medicine” where dogma is less important than choosing the therapy that is most appropriate for the individual patient. This seems a positive way forward and one that Judy supports and encourages in her work by emphasising the use of evidence-based medicines and nutritional interventions where possible.