Here’s why you should you should visit a herbalist rather than trying to choose your own herbs from a health food shop !

This is a HERBAL liquid made for a client who often feels irritable, and that her mind races (especially in bed), who gets palpitations with anxiety, has had a few colds in a row, and who has a twinge of sciatica they are concerned may become more painful.

She also feels quite low from time to time and wants to quit the habit of having a few glasses of wine in the evening, especially as she feels she may be coming into menopause and it makes her feel ‘flushed’.

As you see 7 herbs are chosen to make 1 single mix that address the totality of a clients symptoms. This tincture is created after a thorough consultation involving taking their full medical history, examining their tongue and taking their pulse.

The bottle contains
*Milk thistle – for irritability and a liver detox & the dull sciatica pain.
*Scullcap – for calming the mind and detoxing.
*Hawthorn – for anxiety and palpitations.
*Mullein – a lung tonic and for spinal alignment (re sciatica).
*St. Johns wort – for low mood, joylessness and for nerve pain (sciatica).
*Black cohosh – for the relief of menopausal symptoms and pain relief.
And finally,
*liquorice – for an adrenal tonic and for making the herbs more palatable and digestible.

The client then takes one teaspoon of this mix in water three times a day.

If she had gone into a health food shop she may have purchased something like a single herb tincture of, for example, Valerian or Aveena (oats) .

The first which would have worsened her symptoms (it’s too heating for someone who’s beginning to get hot flushes) and the second would have been inappropriate.

Valerian also would not help the ancillary symptoms of sciatica, nor detoxing while she went off alcohol, nor harmonise the ‘liver energy’ (which traditional Chinese Medicine sees as significant in calming irritability).

Oats then are more appropriate as a nourishing tonic for those ‘tired and wired’ because it builds energy. She may feel a lack of ‘joy’ from time to time, but her energy levels are good. It also can be a quite congesting herb, so not helpful for someone like this lady who gets sinus congestion.

But fundamentally the problem is twofold – A single herb cannot treat holistically by treating the WHOLE person in a balanced way as a classic seven mix formula can.

And secondly it is never going to address the whole health picture correctly when not created by a trained professional herbalist (as based on a comprehensive individualised consultation).

I write this as someone who, 15 years ago, always looked up any presenting symptoms and found the matching single fix-it-herb, bought it in the health food shop and then wondered why the results were extremely hit and miss, were not long-lasting, (and gave me a stomach ache or a rash!)

Now I’m a herbalist I realise that herbal medicine can seem much more simplistic that it is, so I just wanted to give you a little rundown (which became a mini-thesis!) on the best way to use it to get the most powerful results.

Anne Hughes
Acupuncturist – Herbalist – Naturopath