Herbalism is the medicinal application of simple plant extracts. Nature has blessed us with a rich variety of medicinally active plants that can tone, support and strengthen the body’s healing processes. Medicinal herbs can improve our health in many ways including: strengthening organs and systems to improve their function; increasing resilience to stress; cleansing the body of toxins; reducing pain and inflammation; helping the body to fight infection; improving sleep; increasing calmness and well-being; and encouraging hormonal balance.
The body of knowledge that modern Western Herbalism employs is based on centuries of traditional use in several cultures, including western Europe, India and China. For many centuries, people have used plant medicine to ease their suffering, and now we have the benefit of scientific methodology and testing to validate what our ancestors discovered about their favourite medicinal plants.
The beauty of using whole plant herbal extracts (unlike an isolated, concentrated active ingredient in a drug that can be patented) is that the variety of phyto-active compounds that are present in plants work together in a synergistic way that creates a gentle influence on the body that is usually free of side effects and, when used as directed, safe.
Of course, some plants are poisonous, and it must be said that just because something is made from a natural product, it doesn’t mean that it can’t hurt you. It’s also true that what helps one person may be dangerous for another. That’s why it’s important to be guided by the knowledge of an experienced herbalist when using plants as medicine.
While there have been cases of adverse response to herbs, many of these can be attributed to misidentification of a herb, or the contamination of a poor quality product by a cheaper but erroneous ingredient. For this reason, I choose the products I sell very carefully, and buy only from top quality Australian manufacturers who verify the identity and quality of every herb used. These companies – Mediherb, Optimal Rx, Herbal Extracts, Metagenics, Biomedica, Bioceuticals – have taken great care to create world class products that are safe and effective to use.