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How can we reap the health benefits of herbs? Let’s talk about research

  • Dr. Viv Rolfe
    Dr. Viv Rolfe

    Dr. Viv Rolfe is a gut physiologist and herbal researcher. She
    raises awareness of the health benefits of herbs and the existing evidence base. She has a Foundation in Herbal Medicine from Heartwood Education and is involved in herbal research and education through her company Curiosity Research. She plays jazz saxophone and can be found on LinkedIn.

  • 14:37 reading time (ish)
  • Herbal Research

Dr Viv Rolfe’s critically analyses research techniques and shares how limitations pose a challenge to herbal medicine research.

How can we reap the health benefits of herbs Let’s talk about research

Non-communicable diseases like metabolic disease and mental health conditions are dramatically reducing the quality of life in young people (1). As more people globally are living in sub-optimal health, there have been attempts to define what this means, and five elements are considered important — digestive system, cardiovascular system, immune system, fatigue and mental status (2).

Readers of Herbal Reality will need no encouragement here to recognise that these are all areas where herbal remedies are beneficial and have been extensively written about on this website.

Readers will also need no introduction to the struggle that the herbal community often experiences in gaining acknowledgement that practice-based wisdom and scientific evidence exists to support the use of herbs. Mentioning the words herbal and evidence in the same sentence, or the triple threat of herbalism, holistic care or homeopathy, results in regular social media firestorms.

We need to go deeper into the debate to consider its complexity and unpick the very idea of ‘evidence’ and ‘research’ to see why herbal evidence struggles to gain traction. This article will consider difficulties within our wider research cultures and methods, and highlight the complexities faced when researching herbs. It offers advice for readers of herbal papers and researchers along the way.

Dr. Viv Rolfe

Dr. Viv Rolfe is a gut physiologist and herbal researcher. She raises awareness of the health benefits of herbs and the existing evidence base. She has a Foundation in Herbal Medicine from Heartwood... Read more

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