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What is herbal medicine?

Written by Simon Mills

What to expect from herbal consultations and treatments

Herbs are the most accessible self care remedies, and for anyone wanting to look after themselves and their families we introduce many on Herbal Reality. However, they are also what physicians have used, and even today around the globe many thousands of doctors and other practitioners still regularly prescribe herbs to their patients. Herbs are very well suited to expert personalised health care, and were the basis of all systems of medicine until modern times. Indeed the classic traditional systems were largely framed by the innate qualities of plant medicines. A herbal practitioner identifies your signs and symptoms and then, following from a detailed conversation with you, clusters them into identifiable patterns. This then leads to a treatment plan and a selection of specific herbs and other life-style advice to form a treatment journey ahead. 

Anyone who finds that their healthcare situation is more complex or challenging for self care may find consulting a well-trained herbal practitioner very productive. In the hour or so of a first session it is very encouraging how a careful herb-based treatment plan can break through health logjams.

So where to start?

I am a Cambridge medical sciences graduate and have been a herbal practitioner in Exeter since 1977. In that time I have led the main professional and trade organizations for herbal medicine in the UK and served on Government and House of Lords committees. I have written standard textbooks used by herbal practitioners around the world, including with Professor Kerry Bone from Australia.

I was involved in academic work for many years, co-founding the University of Exeter pioneering Centre for Complementary Health Studies in 1987 (where we built a complementary research and postgraduate teaching programme from scratch), then at Peninsula the first integrated health course at a UK medical school, and the first Masters degree in herbal medicine in the USA, at the Maryland University of Integrative Health.

I am particularly fascinated by the insights we can distill from the millions of intelligent people who over many centuries needed plants to survive. Mostly I want to learn and share the old skills, to experience healing plants as characters, that can help us fend off ill health. My passion for offering people tools to look after themselves and their families has led me to work with the founders of the College of Medicine on pioneering national self care and social prescribing projects. I am now the College Self Care Lead and also Herbal Strategist at Pukka Herbs

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