What is a Herbalist?
A Herbalist is a practitioner who is trained in using natural plants for treating a wide range of health issues. Parsley, sage and thyme are examples of well known culinary herbs but these herbs also contain medicinal properties. For example thyme is a very effective anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal herb as well as being a wonderful expectorant for treating coughs. So when you take Thyme in a concentrated dose, it becomes a medicine.
The use of plants as medicine predates written human history. Archaeological evidence indicates that humans were using medicinal plants during the paleolithic era, approximately 60,000 years ago. When the stronger and faster acting pharmaceutical drugs emerged in Europe in the mid twentieth century, the Irish Herbal tradition slowly fell into a deep sleep. However, many countries such as China and India held onto their herbal knowledge and skills and they continue to use this form of medicine alongside more modern drug therapies. In 2007 I went to Guangzhou in China to get first hand experience of how this integrated approach worked in a clinical setting. I spent a full month in a large city hospital alongside the doctors, observing how they worked and how the system worked in general. The first line of treatment in the hospital was usually herbal medicine. Pharmaceutical medicine was used only when required – in certain situations such as for pain relief, in emergency acute situations and when the herbal medicine was not strong enough or quick enough for the job. This was an eye opener for me. It taught me that there is a place for everything and everything has its place. Pharmaceuticals can be life saving, especially in acute situations but medicinal herbs can also be life saving. They can offer safe and gentle solutions and give you back a quality of life that is once again worth living.
What is a Naturopath?
A Naturopath is a practitioner who uses a range of natural modalities in the treatment of disease. Naturopathic medicine grew out of alternative healing systems of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but its philosophical roots can be traced back to the vitalistic school of medicine of Ancient Greece (circa 400 BC). It is based around a central philosophy of ‘vis medicatrix naturae’ meaning ‘the healing power of Nature’. Fundamental to this belief is a deep confidence in the ability of the body to heal itself. So rather than trying to ‘fix’ something that is ‘wrong’ with the body, the focus lies in removing those obstacles which are preventing the body from healing itself. It allows us to take responsibility of our own health and with that responsibility also come the power to change. Naturopathic tools that I use to compliment my Herbal practice include dietary nutrition and flower essence therapy as well as some old naturopathic practices such as castor oil packs and bowel cleanses.
You need to allow 60 to 90 minutes for a first consultation. During this time we work together to retrieve as much information as possible about your current state of health. This includes taking a full past medical history and a tracking of every single symptom that your body communicates to you, no matter how irrelevant it may appear. In my eyes, nothing is irrelevant and a cluster of seemingly trivial details, when pieced together, can often reveal the most important of information. Once we have the history and the facts (and the experience of both) out on the table we can then start looking at the most effective strategies to get you where you want to be as quickly and as easily as possible. Sometimes the solution is simple and a missing nutrient or herbal formula is all that is needed but more often (and especially in chronic disease) a treatment plan is required and needs to be followed for complete and lasting recovery.
This is up to you. I can educate you (I give my knowledge freely) and I can support you but ultimately it is you who does the work. The work usually involves making some worthwhile changes, which you may feel a little resistance to initially but once people start to reap the benefits, they typically never look back. Mostly the changes are related to diet (cutting something out, adding something in) but sometimes action needs to be taken in other areas, such as how we deal with stress. It all boils down to what is causing you to not feel your best in the first place. If these issues aren’t dealt with, then recovery is limited. Although giant steps produce giant results, baby steps are fine too. All that is needed is the willingness to move in the right direction.
Being a herbalist, I usually dispense a Herbal formula, although this does not always have to be the case. Sometimes people prefer to work solely through their diet and this is also a possibility. However, I find that a personalised herbal formula can be invaluable when it comes to supporting, cleansing or relaxing the body. The Herbal formula is typically taken on a daily basis, in a liquid form known as a tincture (alchohal based) at an amount of 100ml per week.
A first Consultation costs 50e. Any follow up consults after that cost only 25e. A personalised Herbal Medicine formula costs typically 12e per week and can be given for either 3 or 4 weeks at a time. So a first consultation plus your medicine for a whole month will cost 98e. The second months consultation and herbal medicine will cost only 73e. Sometimes it is possible for people to go on a repeat prescription for a period of time. In these cases, the cost of the herbs only is charged.
Is it suitable for me?
Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine are generally suitable for most people. The people who come range from those with persistent chronic illness to those who have no diagnosis as such but who feel lethargic and fed up and know that they could be feeling so much better than what they presently are. It is suitable for all ages and I am well trained on how to use herbs alongside medications. If I feel that this therapy is not suitable for you or that another therapy would be more effective for your condition, then I will not hesitate to say so. If you wish to have a short discussion on this, then please feel free to contact me.
Lisa Guinan, Herbalist/Naturopath ND (Dip), Dip Herb, MIRH.
Address: Moy, Lahinch, Clare.