What is a Herbalist?
A Naturopathic Herbalist is a natural health practitioner who is trained to prescribe plants as medicines, along with recommending food and lifestyle adjustments to support good health and prevent disease.
The earliest documented use of herbal medicine was by the Ancient Sumerians in 5000 BC. Since that time Herbal medicine evolved to meet the health needs of each generation across all human cultures. Today, herbal medicine is recommended by the World Health Organisation as a valuable preventative system of medicine that should be integrated into everyday life. Herbal medicine is used to help the body engender health and mitigate disease, and has shown itself to be a powerful health ally.
What does a Herbalist do?
A herbalist will combine herbs to create a formula that will have a health increasing and disease-reducing action on a person.
Herbs are known to have antiviral, immune, antimicrobial, respiratory, digestion-enhancing and nourishing effects on the body. Herbs can also have a specific effect on individual organs of the body such as the liver, the lungs or bladder.
A herbalist is trained to know the phytochemical content of different herbs and how to combine them in order to assist a person from ill health to good health.
A herbal formula may be prepared for the patient in a variety of ways including liquid form (usually as an alcohol tincture and, where required, as a glycerine or vinegar tincture), powder (either loose or in capsules), dried as a herbal tea or infusion, or in creams and ointments for topical use.
Herbalists are qualified to dispense medicinal herbs. This means that the herbal medicines and formulas they provide will be stronger and more potent than herbal teas, powders and tinctures you can purchase in the shops. This is why a herbalist will ask for a full consultation with you before dispensing herbal medicines.
What happens in a consultation with a Herbalist?
Your initial appointment with a herbalist will normally last between 60 to 90 minutes. During this time the herbalist will take a thorough case history including family history, medical history, diet, lifestyle and the health concerns that have brought you to seek herbalist advice. It is common that a herbalist will look at your tongue, nails and skin and sometimes your iris, as well.
Once your consultation is done, the herbalist will create a treatment plan for you, which will include lifestyle and dietary recommendations, and will also blend a herbal formula that will be tailored to your personal health requirements.
A follow up appointment with a herbalist tends to be shorter that the first appointment, lasting between 35 and 45 minutes depending on the complexity of your health goals.
Herbalists registered with the ANP follow a Code of Ethics which includes client confidentiality
How long will I need to see a Herbalist for?
The length of time you spend with a herbalist is a joint decision between you and them and very much dependent on the severity of your symptoms and the treatment plant you agree with your practitioner. Some herbalists will give you the option to see them as and when you need to, whereas others will require a minimum time commitment to be able to work with you, in order to achieve your health aims.
How much does Herbal Medicine cost?
The cost of your Herbalist will depend on a wide range of factors including their specialism, experience, location, level of service and personal preference.
As part of seeing a Herbalist, you may need to pay for the herbal preparations prescribed in addition to the consultation fees. Some practitioners feature their costs on their website. Details of consultation fees and herbal medicine prescription costs should be made clear to you at the time of booking.
Qualifications required to be a Herbalist
To become a competent Herbalist you will need to be educated to Diploma Level 6, or BSc Honours level. This training takes approximately 4-5 years depending on whether you study full time or part time.
Herbal Medicine Professional development
In order to maintain professional status, level of competence and code of conduct as a Herbalist, membership associations such as ANP will require a minimum amount of further training and continued professional development (CPD)
A good Herbal Medicine association, such as ANP, will provide ongoing training and other activities aimed at supporting their members stay abreast of the latest developments in the field of Herbal Medicine.
What can Herbal Medicine help with?
Herbalists are usually consulted for a range of common complaints including:
- Weight issues
How can I find a Herbalist in my area?
Professional, qualified herbalists can be found via the ANP Practitioner Directory.