What to expect in a herbal consultation
Many people will have no idea what to expect during a herbal consultation. And, in fact, your experience is likely to depend on the level of training, qualifications and experience of the herbalist. Here I will explain what to expect if you consult a medical herbalist, with a degree in herbal medicine and membership in a professional herbalist association, such as the National Institute of Medical Herbalists
How a herbal consultation is different
Herbal medicine is a holistic treatment. Not just focussing on symptoms but considering the health of the whole body including mental and emotional health. For instance, if you have acid reflux, a herbalist won't just suggest a remedy to reduce or block stomach acid. A herbalist understands that there are many causes of acid reflux and will try to find the underlying cause and address that as well.
Herbal medicine is empowering. When you work with a herbalist, you will learn how certain foods and lifestyle choices, can stimulate the healing power of nature and your body's self-healing mechanisms.
Your herbalist will listen to you. To understand how to improve your health a herbalist needs to spend time getting to know you and your health concerns. Only then can the herbalist guide and support you to restore your health.
You can ask questions. Some people just want to know what to do to get well. But, if you like to know why then your herbalist can explain their recommendations.
The initial consultation involves the gathering of all the relevant information that the herbalist needs. This may include a clinical examination as appropriate. Any recent lab testing results can also help. Further testing might be recommended if necessary.
There should be a discussion about the important points and agreement on a suggested treatment program. For instance, in a herbal consultation where I am learning more about your health, we will discuss what your goals are and the best possible approach to achieve them. I will then create a bespoke herbal program for you that will help you achieve your health and wellbeing goals.
To effectively help their patients, medical herbalists will be able to answer questions, provide information and communicate the options available.
A good herbalist will be able to help you better understand your health concerns, and how they may be related to your diet, environment, lifestyle, and health history.
When to have a herbal consultation
Some people simply want to have a chat about how to maintain their good health. For instance, you may want to learn how to incorporate herbs into daily life.
However, it is much more common to have a herbal consultation to help with a chronic health concern or complex symptoms.
Wherever possible, rather than simply managing chronic health problems like diabetes, heart disease, digestive symptoms, skin problems, arthritis, allergies, fatigue, anxiety or depression, your healthcare practitioner should always try to reverse the disease progression.
Working with me
To provide you with the best advice I offer in-depth consultations. The first appointment usually lasts around 90 minutes, which means that we have plenty of time to discuss your health concerns and possible solutions.
I will consider your medical history, your family medical history, your diet and lifestyle factors such as sleep quality and exercise. I may also ask what you have tried before. Whether you have had any medical tests. And I will need to know what medication or supplements you are taking.
A complimentary chat
I know that working with a herbalist is a big commitment on your part. I understand you might want to know a bit more about me before you decide to share this information with me.
This is why I offer a complimentary chat before you make a decision to work with me. This chat can be by telephone (UK only) or online (zoom or whatsapp).
During this free chat, you can explain what you want me to help you with. This can vary quite a lot. From migraines or menopause to sleep, stress or skin problems. From allergies and recurrent infections to pre-diabetes and period pain.
I work with many people who have struggled with ill health, sometimes for a long time. Even, people who have been told that they are just not poorly enough to require medical treatment, yet.
Rather than 'watch and wait' I believe it is better to try to improve health. Prevention is better than cure.
Whether you have a diagnosed condition or you just don't feel like you anymore. Get in touch and let's have a chat.
Then I will describe how herbal medicine can help. This short consultation provides the opportunity for us both to see how we might work together to improve your health.
Intake forms for the herbal consultation
After this chat, if you wish to go ahead I can send you my intake forms. These are secure, comprehensive, online forms that may take some time to complete depending on your medical history.
I will then review your forms and you can book your appointment.
The herbal consultation
A herbal consultation will take much longer than a visit to your medical doctor. Usually, your initial visit will last around 90 minutes. This allows plenty of time to discuss your health concerns.
At the consultation, we go through your intake forms to clarify any details. I will review any testing you might already have, and we can discuss any additional testing that might help to track your progress.
After gathering the information we will create your plan. This might include dietary changes, herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, or other forms of support including meditation or relaxation, exercise prescription or referral to other healthcare practitioners.
Forms of herbal practice
So far I have discussed my herbal practice. But there are different forms of herbal medicine and herbal practitioners. Herbalism has a long history of healing people and is integral to many cultures.
You may know of traditional Chinese herbal medicine or the Ayurvedic system of medicine. We also have our own traditional form of herbalism in the western world. Western herbal medicine is sometimes called phytotherapy. It has its roots in western folklore but also integrates a modern scientific understanding of how medicinal herbs work. Western herbal medicine is mainly plant-based, although sometimes animal products such as propolis or honey might be recommended.
However, western herbalists also use herbs from other traditions, such as Chinese Medicine. This is because sometimes a herb grows all over the world. So, many plants are part of several herbal traditions. Western herbalists include Chinese herbs in their dispensary because scientific research shows their efficacy and history of safe treatment.
I am a medical herbalist and practice western herbal medicine. But, I also have herbs in my clinic dispensary from other parts of the world.
How to find a good herbalist
Are you looking for a qualified herbalist who will guide you in your quest for wellness? If so, you should know that herbalists are not all the same. Practitioner training varies quite a lot. Some herbalists have studied to degree level and have many hours of supervised clinical training. Yet, it is also possible to be a herbalist in the UK, with no formal qualifications at all.
Members of organisations such as the National Institue of Medical Herbalists or NIMH have thorough training in medicinal plants and clinical skills. Importantly, qualified practitioners such as medical herbalists are bound by professional standards and codes of conduct. We also undergo regular continuous professional development and have insurance to practice.
You will also find some herbalists who specialise in particular health topics. For instance, some are experts in women's health care, digestive issues, autoimmune disorders, skin health or psychological issues such as anxiety. While others have medical training or experience in other areas of healthcare. So a herbalist may also offer other therapies such as nutrition, acupuncture or massage. Different areas and levels of expertise, training and experience can make a big difference to what a practitioner is able to recommend for you.
How to prepare for your herbal consultation
Many people are surprised to learn how much herbal remedies can help them. Here is how to prepare for your herbal medicine consultation and get the most out of it.
If you have a complex medical history it is a good idea to write down your major health issues in chronological order. Include on this list any medical diagnosis you have had, any prescribed medication you have taken and whether it helped you or not. If you have tried any herbal products in the past this can also be useful information. Make a note if you had any negative side effects from any treatment, whether conventional treatment or herbal treatment.
Make another list with any current prescription from your medical doctor, with dosages. Plus add on any herbal supplements or herbal prescription you might be taking.
It is also worthwhile gathering together any results of lab tests or other orthodox medicine checks you may have had. I usually ask to see a consecutive three-day food diary before the initial consultation too.
What to bring with you
Your first visit to see a herbalist may be quite a surprise. You can expect a long chat about your health history. Sometimes this is the first time you will have spoken to someone at length about your health issue. Compared to allopathic medicine, a herbal consultation will be much more in-depth. I will want to find out the potential triggers or underlying causes of your health issues. Understanding your constitution, dietary preferences and lifestyle will help me to choose the most effective solutions. Herbal preparations can be potent medicine because they work by promoting health and improving how your body functions.
It's a great idea to bring a list of questions. I will ask about your medical and dietary history, lifestyle and general health, and your current medications. You should have plenty of time to discuss any current health concerns.
Having your chronological list will help save time and this will mean more time for the creation of the most effective treatment plan.
After the herbal consultation
Most herbalists will be able to recommend or supply many herbal products. Your herbal preparation may be single herbs but most likely will be a bespoke herbal formula. This may be in the form of liquid extracts such as a herbal tincture, or dry extracts such as dried, loose herbal tea, herbal extract capsules or tablets. You may also have a herbal cream, oil or gel as appropriate.
Depending on training and experience herbalists can also provide dietary and lifestyle advice. For instance, your herbalist might recommend a weight loss programme, gentle stretching or refer you for another treatment such as acupuncture.
I believe that food forms an essential foundation for improving health, so a herbal treatment plan from me often includes personalised diet advice.
How much does a consultation cost?
The consultation fee that herbalists charge can vary a great deal. Often it will depend on their skill and experience. The initial consultation usually costs more than a follow-up appointment because there is more time involved.
Usually, the herbalist will ask you to return for a follow-up session about 2-3 weeks later. This is to make sure of the medicinal effects and progress are what is expected. Make any necessary adjustments to treatment such as changing the proportions of herbs in the liquid tincture.
Depending on the reason for your visit, you may need to see the herbalist for just one extra session. Or, for more complex health problems you might need to see the herbalist over a period of 3-6 months, or even longer. Your herbalist should be able to explain what is expected and how many extra sessions might be necessary.
The basic steps in a herbal consultation
- Gathering and sorting the information from your intake, the consultation, lab tests and physical examination
- Considering the details of this information to understand the factors that have led to your ill health
- Explaining which factors may be the triggers or obstacles that are perpetuating your ill health
- Recommend the factors to remove and replace these with supportive strategies that restore weakened organs and body systems and stimulate your body to heal