What is Phytotherapy (Western herbal medicine)?

Phytotherapy is the science-based medicinal use of plants and preparations derived from them, in the treatment, alleviation and/or prevention of disease or injury, according to recognized standards of quality, safety, and efficacy.”

European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy

The World Health Organisation encourages the rational application of traditional and complementary medicine, especially in the prevention and management of chronic diseases, as well as in meeting the health needs of aging populations (Source: WHO global report on traditional and complementary medicine 2019).  

Herbal medicine is the oldest and still the most widely used system of healthcare in the world today. It is the medicine made exclusively from plants.

Phytotherapy or medical herbalism is the most scientifically validated medicine in the categories of natural medicine.

It is a new medical paradigm that combines ancient traditions (mainly Western) with the cutting edge of current scientific research.

The modern herbalist is a multidisciplinary practitioner with training in medical sciences and holistic skills taught in traditional Western herbal medicine.

What does a medical herbalist treat?

Phytotherapy is for everyone (children, adults, elderly), and it can help to support wellness.     

If you want more specific information on how a medical herbalist might approach a health issue, please read our blog articles and information on our website or contact us.

Is there good scientific evidence?

The foundation of modern medications, chemistry, perfumes, and botany lies in plant medicine. Many synthetic drugs are either derived from plants or are like chemicals found in nature. Also, a report based on extensive research (funded by Victoria's Department of Human Services) and reviews by La Trobe University in Australia states the following:  

"A review of 77 systematic reviews published between 2001 and 2003 suggested that there is now evidence of the benefits of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine for almost everybody system and all major illnesses. It can be concluded that the tools of the trade of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine can be effective and that the practice of naturopathy and Western herbal medicine is therefore potentially effective."

What is a medical herbalist?

A medical herbalist:  

  • Is trained in the philosophies, principles, and practice of Western herbal medicine and medical sciences.
  • Has a specialist university education from an accredited institution and association.
  • Combines conventional medical knowledge with a scientific and traditional understanding of plant medicine.
  • Takes a holistic view towards health and diseases.
  • Assess you as a person and not just treat the disease.
  • Is involved in prescribing effective doses of herbal remedies that are of pharmaceutical grade, prescriptions that are safe for human use in the prevention and treatment of diseases, or the promotion of wellness.
  • Seeks to treat the underlying cause of illness.
  • Works towards stimulating or strengthening the body's normal functions, and thereby help the body heal itself.
  • Always aims toward creating a trusting and healing relationship with the patient.
  • Inspires positive and lasting changes.
  • Provides nutrition, lifestyle, stress management, and psycho-spiritual advice.
  • Maintains a high standard of professional practice.

Benefits of consulting an accredited medical herbalist

Your practitioner:  

  • Is a fully qualified university-level specialist in herbal medicine.
  • Abides by a professional Code of Ethics.
  • Maintains continuous professional education.

How does phytotherapy work?

In phytotherapy, plant medicines are selected based on a professional consultation with the client and differential diagnosis will be conducted if further assessment is necessary. They are selected to stimulate or strengthen the body's normal functions, and thereby assist the body to heal itself.  

The medical herbalist approaches each client as a unique individual when making a holistic diagnosis. Any herbal medicine prescribed may be a combination of plants chosen for the specific needs of the patient. Herbs that prescribed may be in the form of tea, tinctures, capsules, tablet, and a lotion/cream for topical use.

What to expect when consulting a medical herbalist?

  • A full and comprehensive consultation includes:
  • A detailed case and medical history, including diet, lifestyle, sleep pattern, digestion, emotional states, etc.
  • An assessment of the tongue, pulse, and other differential diagnostic techniques to determine one's tissue type and energetic profile.
  • Individually prescribed and dispensed herbal medicine with clear dosage instructions.
  • Dietary, stress management, and lifestyle medicine.
  • Naturopathic assessment.
  • Confidentiality.
  • Professionalism.

Is phytotherapy safe?

Phytotherapy is very safe and effective when prescribed by a fully qualified medical herbalist. Self-care with herbs, due to their complexity, should be complemented with professional consultations.

Can herbs be taken alongside my medical doctor's prescription?

Medical herbalists are trained to work with doctor's prescriptions, so your herbal protocol will be chosen in consideration with any current medication. Follow-up appointments at regular intervals will be made to monitor your progress and adjust the protocol accordingly.

Is phytotherapy suitable for children?

Phytotherapy is very suitable, safe, and useful for babies and children's ailments and general health. Herbs can alleviate symptoms and facilitate developmental changes such as the maturation of the immune system. Thus, they can benefit the long-term health of the child. It is also a gentle form of medicine that supports their developing body systems.

What is the difference between phytotherapy and traditional medicine (Chinese, Ayurvedic, etc.)?

There is value in any form of medicine, whether is conventional or traditional. 
However, by itself, traditional medicine may not be enough to address modern clinical diseases in a modern developed country. Our ancestors did not have much processed or refined food, pesticides, chemicals, emf exposure, air pollution, and everyday urban stress. 

Phytotherapy integrates medical science and traditional wisdom to offer a holistic, patient-centered, and natural approach.

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Health supplementation is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider or medical doctor. 
There are health-related conditions that require a face-to-face consultation with a qualified and experienced health professional. 

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