The pros and cons of Frequently Asked Questions

When I first started looking at the internet, which was later than some and earlier than others, I naively thought that the Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQ) on websites was literally that, the most frequent questions people ask.  How wrong I was!

A FAQ section usually holds out the hope that what you want to know will be there, because they are obvious questions to ask, right?  No, what most websites put in FAQ is THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THEY WANT TO TELL YOU.

Now while this is no doubt very good marketing policy, it can be a tad irritating for the unfortunate individual who has stumbled upon the site. Instead, breaking with all (21st century) tradition I have compiled some answers to ACTUAL QUESTIONS THAT PEOPLE KEEP ASKING ME (wow!) in the hope that this will break down the barriers that prevent people understanding what a herbalist is and what a herbalist does:

What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal Medicine is the use of plant medicines to treat health imbalances. After a consultation, I use preparations from whole herbs mixed together in a prescription tailored specially for your pattern of imbalance at that time; supporting your body, mind and spirit in regaining a balanced health and vitality.

How is it different from Homoeopathy?

There are many principles in common between Herbal Medicine and Homoeopathy:

  • a consultation to get the full health picture
  • the administration of oral medicines
  • medicines based on plants

However the major difference with Herbal Medicine is that

  • you are receiving a material dose of the herb
  • only herbs (plant remedies) are used
  • the medicines have a direct physiological effect on the body
  • the taste of the medicine is important to its effectiveness

What can you recommend for my symptoms?

I don’t specifically give recommendations off the cuff for over the counter herbal remedies for your symptoms for a number of reasons:

  • Symptoms are not isolated ailments separate from your body and whole being – they are part of a pattern of imbalance you are encountering. I see it as my job to uncover the pattern and decide on a herbal treatment plan which will change it to a more harmonious pattern. I can only do this in a consultation.
  • Symptoms might be easily fixed by a cough syrup, indigestion tea or whatever but could equally be part of a deeper imbalance which requires long term constitutional herbal treatment or even referral back to your doctor for appropriate diagnostic tests.
  • Standard over the counter herbal remedies may not work for everyone

Having said all that, The Healing Clinic will shortly be stocking a number of standard herbal teas in our shop for you to try and for practitioners, herbal and otherwise, to recommend to patients.

Rather than recommend I will mix personally and dispense to you a herbal mix tailored to your specific needs…but only after a consultation in person.

Can you treat my illness?

Herbal Medicine can treat a range of illnesses as wide as conventional medicine. However, it is best to contact me with a few details of your illness so that I can decide whether a consultation and subsequent herbal prescription would be likely to help.

Will it interfere with my medicines from the Doctor?

Herbal medicines do have a physiological effect on the body so that they can, potentially, interact with conventional medicines, especially at higher doses. The herbs in my mixtures are usually at a lower dose than would be likely to interact.

Nevertheless, sometimes herbs can compete with or potentiate conventional drugs (make their effects weaker or stronger). It is for this reason that I insist on taking a full case history, including current drug intake before prescribing the herbs.

I want to stop my Doctor’s prescription and take herbal medicines instead, can you help me to do that?

It is seldom advisable for you to stop taking medicines prescribed by your doctor without their knowledge.

I can treat you with herbs alongside the doctor’s medicine, taking possible interactions into account. If you wish to reduce or cease conventional medicine, with your doctor’s knowledge, my herbal medicines can sometimes help you achieve that over a period of time

Hope this helps


About donaldpurves

Traditional Herbalist since 1989, qualified originally with National Institute of Medical Herbalists (Tutorial Course, School of Herbal Medicine/Phytotherapy), joined Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners in 2011. University lecturer in Herbal Medicine since 2005. Born and brought up in the Scottish Borders. Higher Education at University of York (Biology 1980) and Scottish School of Herbal Medicine (MSc Herbal Medicine 2003). Married to Rukshana Afia, an artist working with drawing, textiles and ceramics. Passionate about environmental, economic and social justice.
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