I have uploaded my MSc thesis on Tree Remedies which I did for the legendary Scottish School of Herbal Medicine (may it rest in peace) in 2003.
My initial question was “is there a difference between tree remedies and other herbal remedies as perceived by the herbalists using them?” I surveyed approx 300 NIMH herbalists via questionnaire and was blessed with around 100 replies.
As you may guess the answer to the question was equivocal – “to some extent” or (any Lincoln students out there?) the hoary old “it depends”!
What was more interesting in a way was the trend towards “energetic” prescribing – by which I don’t mean tiny notional doses but prescribing on the basis of an energetic rather than biomedical assessment of the patient. I think the results reveal a definite tension at that time between biomedical justification of our remedies and determination to be more holistic with our patients.
Trying to get inside herbalists’ heads at the moment of prescribing I was a little dismayed by the extent to which symptoms were being matched to actions defined by pharmacological research. I am not meaning to be negatively critical of my peers here – I, too, often take such short cuts in treating patients – with effective results it has to be said.
8 years on, I could equate some of this limited prescription rationale with students at level 2 of our programme at University of Lincoln. (no offence intended to any of you reading this!) In 2001-02, studying for the MSc, exposure to energetic modalities such as TCM, humoural medicine and ayurveda were relatively new to me and outside the remit of most NIMH herbalists. Since then many of these energetic precepts are integral to my practice and passed on routinely to our students by myself and colleagues.
Traditional western herbal medicine is developing – there is a serious attempt to counter the malaise of the 1990’s of “not having an overarching philosophy”.