What is botanical medicine?
Botanical medicine is the use of western and eastern herbs to promote healing in the body. This is a core aspect of the history of medical treatments across the world. Many cultures continue to incorporate various herbs into different therapies and even into daily diet.
People still use herbs to stay healthy?
People assume that the use of medicinal herbs is not common, however many people use herbs in a medicinal manner every day. Common teas including chamomile (Matricaria recutita), peppermint (Mentha piperita), and chai have specific functions on digestive and mental emotional health. Coffee is a strong digestive bitter and helps to promote digestion. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), oregano (Origanum vulgare) make your Italian food taste good, but are very strong anti-oxidants and inhibit the growth of bacteria. Even the main constituent of aspirin was historically sourced from the bark of the willow tree (Salix alba) or from wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens).
How are they prescribed?
Herbs are often prescribed in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are simply incorporated into the diet. Turmeric is a common one that works best when taken frequently and added to a fat or oil. Teas of all kinds are used with single herbs or synergistic combinations of herbs that can be individualized to the patients condition. Traditional Chinese herbalism relies heavily on teas and a patient will often take home packets of whole herbs to prepare at home.
Many practitioners use prepared forms of herbs. These include common forms like tablets and capsules, and others like tinctures and solid extracts. Tinctures are alcohol or glycerine based extracts of single or multiple herbs. This form is more concentrated than the whole herb forms and is dosed in droppers or teaspoons per day. Solid extracts are the most concentrated form typically given. This is usually formed by extracting the herb in a solvent (usually alcohol and water) and then evaporating the solvent. This leaves an often syrupy consistency that is easy to dose in small amounts.
What training do Naturopathic doctors and Oriental Medicine providers get in herbs?
Both Naturopathic doctors and Oriental medicine providers have extensive training in botanical medicine. Naturopathic doctors use botanical medicine as a core aspect of their treatment strategy. I have spent the majority of my clinical training focusing on botanical medicine treatments and have gone to a wide variety of continuing education, conferences, and seminars. Oriental medicine providers differ from acupuncturists mostly based on their training in botanical medicine. My training focused heavily on the proper use and combination of raw and prepared herbal formulas and I had 1,125 clinical training hours highly focused on Oriental medicine treatments.
Where can I learn more about botanical medicine?
There are many resources about both western and traditional Chinese herbal medicine online and in print. You can find a number of them on my links page.