Author: Sophia Gerontakos
The beauty and magic of herbal medicine is its wondrous capacity to nourish, tone, regulate, and stimulate the body’s own innate healing capacity without suppressing or over-riding any system or organ. Ultimately our bodies want to heal and be well. They are constantly healing and renewing themselves or parts of themselves in order to maintain wellness.
We see this with the turnover of all different types of cells. Skin cells, where dead skin sloughs off leaving new regenerated layers; with blood cells which turn over about every 120 days, and certain organs even have the ability to regenerate after considerable damage. These are all signs of the body maintaining health, and physical signs of illness are also signs of the body endeavouring to restore balance, maintain homeostasis and be well again.
Herbs are ‘drugs’ gifted from Mother Nature which work on many different levels to support our miraculous bodily processes physically, mentally and spiritually. There is no disconnect between any of these levels and “wellness” is health of the physical body and the psyche interconnectedly. This underpinning concept is the foundation of how herbal medicines work. They work on multiple different body systems at once, especially when prescribed synergistically, and often a herbal formula can address both the presenting physical symptoms as well as the underlying cause such as assisting the body to ‘adapt’ to chronic stress.
Synergy is a key concept in herbal medicine. It is when there is a cooperative effect between the components of herbs and of herbal combinations, which assist in achieving a specific outcome. This means that often combinations of herbs mixed together have a greater therapeutic effect than an individual herb would have. For this reason, herbal medicine formulas should be prescribed by qualified herbalists to each individual person based on their own needs, condition, and constitution.
It is the holistic and synergistic nature of herbal medicine which makes it so unique, effective and beneficial for such a wide range of conditions. It is particularly useful in chronic, complex conditions and where the cause of the symptoms or imbalances is not known or when there is no answer or treatment through conventional forms of medicine.
It is important to note that herbal medicines are drugs and there are safety considerations to be aware of. They can interact with each other, with pharmaceutical drugs and with absorption of nutrients within the body. As well as this, not all herbal medicines are suitable for every person and there are many factors to take into consideration when prescribing. These are some of the reasons it is so important that herbs be prescribed by qualified herbalists on an individual basis. Working with an appropriately qualified naturopath or herbalist will greatly assist you to reap the benefits of this type of medicine and see optimal outcomes and lasting results.