Herbal Medicine

Here at the Estuary Clinic Topsham, Exeter we offer herbal medicine, with highly respected practitioners.

Herbal Medicine – or phytotherapy – is the treatment of disease using plant preparations – a practice relied on by around 80% of the world’s population to this day, according to the World Health Organisation.  Herbal remedies are the oldest forms of medicine and their use in treating ailments is supported by scientific research.  Practitioners combine knowledge and training in medical sciences with an understanding of the chemical composition of plants, botanical sciences and traditional practice, in order to treat patients safely and effectively.

Unlike pharmaceutical medicines – which, although often based on plants, are reduced to single chemicals – herbal medicines use extracts from the whole plant, meaning that the constituents are naturally balanced.  This provides the patient with nutritional and immunological benefits which pharmaceuticals generally lack – in other words, herbal medicine has the potential to provide a holistic solution to a condition.

Whilst the practice of herbal medicine is based on centuries of empirical evidence, modern clinical research is increasing in both quality and quantity in support of the traditional use of plants in herbal medicine.

Society in the twenty first century is increasingly looking towards more natural, sustainable and healthy lifestyle choices.  We tend to do more exercise, are more conscious of what we eat and drink and where it is sourced, we are increasingly better informed about and sensitive to our environment, and are exploring more balanced ways in which to lead our lives.  It makes sense then, in an age where we seek to increase the natural foods in our diet, that we should explore the possibilities of natural medicine.

Herbal medicines act to nourish and sustain the body, restoring function to weakened tissues and organs, and encouraging the body to heal itself.  Most medicine, whether herbal or pharmaceutical, is derived from plant matter but, unlike pharmaceutical drugs which contain isolated chemicals, herbal medicine uses extracts from the whole plant.  These active extracts thus contain hundreds of constituents, meaning that the medicine is balanced and moderated – resulting in fewer side effects and a more holistic remedy.

Herbalists use similar diagnostic skills to a GP.  However, a herbal practitioner will take a holistic view of the patient’s condition, taking into account not only current symptoms but also medical history, general health, nutrition and the current state of body and mind.  The aim here is to establish and resolve the underlying cause of the patient’s problem, rather than to solely treat the individual symptoms.  That is a herbalist’s main principle – the practitioner will approach their patient’s clinical picture as the study of a web of interlocking relationships rather than a quest for single cause and a single cure for a single ailment.

Follow-up consultations may be required and may include adjustment to the prescription.

Following the consultation, a unique prescription consisting of a combination of plants, specific to the patient’s requirements, is blended.  This is usually in the form of a liquid tincture, but may also take the form of decoctions, infusions, creams, oils, tablets, poultices, macerates, syrups and inhalations – for internal or external use as appropriate.

Generally speaking, most forms of herbal medicine can be used alongside other forms of treatment.  However, a qualified herbalist will advise the patient and their doctor regarding any potential contraindications and/or interaction with pharmaceutical medication
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Herb Walks

Discover historical and current uses of a huge variety of medicinal plants growing all around us. Our Herbalist Isobel Ravden runs regular Herb Walks around various locations within Exeter. Herb Walks can be organised on request at a location to suit small groups, such as gardens, allotments or your favourite walk. Call in for more information on Bespoke Herb Walks - minimum group size 4 people.