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Registered Medical Herbalist
Luzia Barclay
Tel: 01722 330663

Herbal medicine – Sometimes Nature knows best

Chances are that your medicine cabinet contains aspirin. Aspirin has its origins in the bark of the white willow tree and in the pretty plant meadowsweet.

Both herbs contain salicylic acid and have been used for many centuries to reduce aches, fever and rheumatic pain.

Clinical research on aspirin started over 100 years ago and still continues today. It seeks to produce a drug that eases pain and inflammation by interrupting the pathway of pain, ideally without harmful side effects.

So far, these remedies succeed in reducing pain and inflammation but often cause stomach irritation and stomach bleeding, or increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
No one wants to suffer pain, so does herbal medicine have anything to offer? A pain killer without side effects?

White willow bark or meadowsweet when used in their entirety don’t cause any side effects - but they only ease mild pain. All the many constituents in these two plants work together to protect the stomach lining.

The approach of herbal medicine is to prevent pain and to search for and treat the cause of pain, believing that pain does not arise just to annoy us. Pain can be compared with the red light on the dashboard signalling, ‘something is wrong!’

Pain exists for a reason, it is a signal for an underlying ‘fault’. The search for the reason takes time and requires a holistic approach, i.e. looking into diet and lifestyle and any other symptoms. A headache might stem from a lack of sleep or a tendency to constipation.

Herbs can be prescribed to ease constipation, making the digestive system function better and remove metabolic waste products better. As a result the headache disappears for good. There are also many herbs that help to improve sleep.

Of course not all herbs are safe. Foxglove and hemlock can kill. During the centuries lives were lost as medicinal herbs were discovered by trial and error. Herbal medicine was also closely intertwined with mythology and magic.

Today, though, herbs are widely researched in many countries and offered as alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs or used in conjunction with them.

The strength of using herbs lies in their ability to prevent illness by supporting the immune system as well as individual organs, e.g. milkthistle helps to restore the liver, horsetail helps to heal the urinary system and the list goes on.

Herbal medicine is an old profession, in fact it is the oldest form of healing.

To learn more about using herbs and how to incorporate them into your daily life you are invited to join one of the small groups I teach in my Salisbury herbal practice.

Details of courses can be found here or phone 01722 330663.