What is a Medical Herbalist?

This is a person who has trained in the medical sciences and so has a modern understanding of the health problems affecting people in today’s world however, instead of recommending drugs or surgeries, they carefully use plant-based medicines from traditions that span back thousands of years.

What health problems can it help?
Medical herbalists see people from all ages and walks of life with all kinds of problems. Acne, eczema, anxiety, hot flushes (hot flashes)… the list is ongoing, but the common factor in the people who benefit most from seeing a medical herbalist is that they have a chronic health problem that is not getting better by itself. Some practitioners specialise in certain areas but most medical herbalists have a wide range of experience in all kinds of conditions. If you are not sure, it is a good idea when you are making an enquiry for an appointment to ask if they have had positive experience in treating the issue you are seeking help with.

Calendula officinalis M. Allan

How much does it cost?
This is an important question but the NZAMH does not fix the rates of consultation or herbal medicine charges for its members. You may be able to see the costs for visiting with one of our herbalists on their page in the Find a Medical Herbalist section or you can certainly ask them in person by making an enquiry by phone or email.

How long will it take?
This is another area that is important for many people to get a sense of when they commit to seeking treatment from a medical herbalist. As people’s health conditions are varied your practitioner will be able to give you an honest answer to this question at the very beginning of your treatment.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) J_Brown
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) J_Brown

What does treatment involve?
This exact nature of treatment will vary between practitioners but what you can expect is that you will more than likely be given herbal medicines in a liquid and/or tablet form to take on a daily basis for at least a few weeks or longer if needed. Every case is different but medical herbalists are holistic practitioners, they follow the ancient principles of working with the cause of illness wherever possible so, as well as herbs, there are a wide range of other areas that may get attention within an appointment.

Hypericum perforatum J_Brown

Are there any risks or side-effects?
Herbal medicines has a tremendous history of use that goes back many thousands of years. In that time we have taken great care to learn what works and how to use it safely. This knowledge has been passed down and a medical herbalist today has gone through extensive training in how to use herbs both safely and effectively.

Plants contain many powerful substances and will often have strong actions within the person who takes them as medicine. We encourage people to always make contact with their medical herbal practitioner if they are having any concerns about their treatment programme. If a member of the public has a negative experience with one of our members and does not feel they are being dealt with fairly then, under the rules of our association as well as the Health and Disability Act 2000, they are able to contact us directly to make a complaint. Our members take the safety and care of their patients seriously.

Does it matter if I am taking prescription drugs?
It is very important that you write down the exact names and dosages of any prescription drugs you are taking when you visit a medical herbalist. Many prescription drugs do interact with herbal medicines but your practitioner is well-trained to know what is or isn’t safe to use in these instances.