The Art of Herbal Medicine

The Art of Herbal Medicine


HERBAL MEDICINE is the oldest and most widely used system of medicine in the world today and there is a commonality throughout all cultures. For 40,000 years we have sought out roots, barks, leaves, flowers and berries to alleviate suffering or maintain vitality. Traditional wisdom and knowledge are the mainstays of herbal medicine although 'modern' herbal medicine does incorporate evidence from clinical trials and scientific research. 

The therapeutic activity of a plant is due to its complex chemical nature and each part of a plant may provide certain effects e.g. Turmeric’s (Curcuma longa) yellow colour is derived from curcumin which is found in the root. Curcumin is most noted for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory actions in the body. 

St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has become well known for its treatment of anxiety and depression and is a good example to demonstrate how modern medicine loves to isolate which particular chemical constituent is responsible for certain actions, and often gets it wrong. It is believed that St Johns Wort helps with depression by increasing serotonin, norephredrine, and dopamine (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Originally it was thought the herb achieved this increase by inhibiting an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. This now appears incorrect and it is most likely that its effectiveness is based on a SYNERGY of interactions. 

Traditionally St Johns Wort has been used to treat a wide range of conditions and is also well documented for its antiviral/antimicrobial properties. One could speculate that a contributing factor to feelings of depression and anxiety might be latent viruses present in the body. 

Traditional Herbalists know how to combine herbs to allow maximum synergy to occur where the combined effects contribute to a much greater therapeutic effect than a single herb alone can achieve, and you may even experience some beneficial side-effects! 

Following the prescribed dose is important if you want to get well. If you are taking a herbal mix for an acute condition(cold, cough etc.) then you may be surprised at how many times a day you are asked to take it.(e.g. 4-6 times daily)People have mixed responses to the taste but there is some merit to the saying the more bitter the medicine the better the result. 

The action of bitters enhances the whole upper digestive function and improves assimilation of nutrients. The bitter effect is completely lost unless one TASTES the bitter, and the intensity of effect is in direct proportion to strength of taste. 

NZ has a few Medical Herbalists who manufacture traditional herbal liquids, creams and ointments. One of the longest standing manufacturers (20 years) is David Harrison from DL’s Herbal clinic which is situated at Waihi Beach. He supplies practitioners and formulates and manufactures specific formulas for other companies but also has remedies available to the public branded under Inseason Herbals range. 

Herbal Medicine can be used successfully for a wide range of ailments and also to maximise physical performance for athletes. 

To view a comprehensive range of effective home remedies go to the NZ Health & Wellbeing Shopping Cart and/or view the brochures

Contact  JUDE LAY


Posted: Sun 17 Jul 2011

Contact Jude Lay Health Consultant RE: Health Articles