The consultation: what to expect?

The first consultation takes between 60 and 90 minutes. A full case history is taken in order to build a complete picture of the individual. This may also include a physical examination.

The second appointment usually follows within two weeks, with subsequent appointments occurring every 4-6 weeks; these should last between 30 and 45 minutes. Prescriptions are reassessed and adjusted at each visit.

A course of treatment may involve specific dietary and lifestyle advice as well as an individually designed prescription of herbal medicine. Practical and comprehensive advice for healthy eating is also included. A supplementary nutrient programme may be required and is tailored to the individual.

How long does the treatment take?

The length of treatment depends on the individual and the condition being treated. Acute complaints may respond quickly, whilst chronic and long term complaints may require a longer period of treatment.

With the appropriate changes in diet and a personalised nutritional programme, positive changes may be seen within the first two weeks. It is important to remember that herbs have a gradual, accumulative effect and generally work more slowly than conventional drugs, however, their long-term benefits are greater and long-lasting.

In what form are herbal medicines prescribed?

Herbal medicines are mostly prescribed in the form of tinctures. These are alcohol-based extracts of medicinal plants which are taken in small doses in water. Herbs may be prescribed in other forms, including teas, capsules or creams. All herbal medicines are made from fresh wild-crafted and organic plant material. On the rare occasion they are not this is simply because they cannot be sourced however will still be of the best quality possible.

Are herbal medicines, nutritional supplements and nutraceuticals safe?

Herbal medicines, supplements and nutraceuticals prescribed by a fully qualified practitioner are very safe and unusual reactions are extremely rare if at all. It is important to remember, however, that not all herbs are safe and gentle in action simply because they are ‘natural’ as many contain potent plant chemicals and may cause various unexpected interactions in the body. It is always best, therefore, to refer to a trained Medical Herbalist and Nutritional Therapist when considering commercial herbal and nutritional remedies. It is also important to remember that we are all unique individuals and what is effective for one is not necessarily effective for another.

Can herbal medicines be used alongside conventional medications?

Herbal and nutritional medicine both complement and work very well alongside orthodox treatments, often by simply helping relieve physical and mental symptoms caused by illness. However, this is usually discussed during the appointment and herbal medicines are dispensed accordingly.

Who can benefit from herbal medicine and nutritional therapy?

Herbal medicine and nutritional therapy may be used effectively and safely to treat everyone including infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly. Most ailments, whether short-term complaints or long-term illness, may be treated successfully with herbal medicine and dietary changes, especially when the patient would rather take a more natural approach to their health, avoiding synthetic drugs and their side effects.

Medical practitioners are increasingly referring complementary therapists those patients who have chronic health problems that conventional medicine finds difficult to treat.

How should herbal medicines be stored?

Herbal medicines do not need to be kept in the fridge. However, it is best not to leave them exposed to full sunlight.

Herbal medicines last for years as they are extracted partially in ethanol which helps preserve them.

What are ethanol extracts?

Herbal medicines are extracted in a combination of water and a smaller amount of ethanol. This method allows a full range of water soluble and fat soluble plant chemicals to be extracted from the plant matter. The ethanol further helps preserve these plant chemicals, thereby helping to maintain the effectiveness of the herbal medicines. Although the plant matter is extracted in alcohol, the final product is considered to have the same amount of alcohol as an overripe banana.