Herbalism uses herbs, plants, flower essences and tree bark to treat illness and disease.
How does it work?
Like traditional medicine a herbalist will ask you questions about your health and the treatment that you've had so far and any medication that you are on. He or she will then prescribe herbs for your conditions. This will be in different forms such as teas, oils or herbal tablets. Herbalism covers everything from chewing a bit of ginger to calm a travel-sick tummy to over-the-counter herbal supplements such as St John's Wort and aloe vera. Many prescription drugs have herbal extracts in them, for example Aspirin is made from a type of bark.
But there is some concern from the medical profession that herbalism can be dangerous. Some herbs, plants and berries can be very harmful and may not mix with everyday medicine that you take. If you are taking herbal medicine of any sort you must inform your doctor.
What conditions can it treat?
Everything from health problems such as IBS, eczema to migraines and poor circulation. Herbalism can also help with problems such as low sex drive and anxiety.
Can I have it on the NHS?
Generally speaking you cannot see a herbalist or get herbal medicine on the NHS but some doctors are open to herbal supplements and might advise you try something that has been widely tested, such as St John's Wort. In some cases your doctor might refer you to a homeopath and sometimes they recommend herbal supplements as well as homeopathic remedies.
How much does it cost?
You can buy herbal supplements at health food stores and chemists and prices can vary widely depending on the shop, brand and type of supplement. To see a private herbalist the cost will vary across the country but expect to pay between £30-£50 for an initial consultation.
Where can I go to get treatment and find out more information?
Speak to your doctor first as they may be able to recommend someone. Alternatively contact The National Institute of Medical Herbalists