About Herbal Medicine

How Herbal Medicine Is Used

Western Medical Herbalists use a holistic approach in the management of disease. They use traditional British, European and North American plant remedies to relieve symptoms, and often work alongside doctors and patients in the diagnosis and management of conditions both acute (such as a cold, flu etc) to chronic (such as migraines, menopause, high blood pressure).

Herbal medicine is often seen as 'complementary' or 'alternative' medicine (CAM), but cutting edge research, analytical chemistry and modern medical science, suggest that herbal medicine holds far more value and potential than the 20th century medical profession previously thought.

Many pharmaceutical drugs are based on plants, and when scientists seek new cures, it is still to the plant world that they turn. Often what is thought to be a single active ingredient is extracted, synthesized and manufactured on a commercial scale (for example, aspirin from willow).

However, Medical Herbalists use pure whole plant, (roots, leaves, flowers etc.) to construct herbal remedies, not plant-based concentrate or standardized extracts. This is to take advantage of the plant’s natural synergy. Plants contain thousands of constituents; active constituents being balanced within the plant by many other substances which make them more or less powerful.

It is the synergy between the constituents of the plants that gives the beneficial action.

For example, Ephedra sinica contains the alkaloid ephedrine, which is used in orthodox medicine to treat asthma. However, it has the side effect of raising the blood pressure. In the whole plant there are six other alkaloids, one of which prevents a rise in blood pressure.

Another clear example would be synthetic diuretics, used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure. Synthetic diuretics reduce the level of potassium in the body, and this has to be corrected by using potassium supplements. Taraxacum officinalis (Dandelion) leaves are a potent diuretic, but contain potassium to replace that which is lost.

Modern medicine is now also using synergy in the multi-drug approach to cancer, AIDS and other illnesses.

About NIMH

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists is the UK’s leading professional body representing herbal practitioners. The Institute maintains a register of individual members, sets the profession’s educational standards and runs an accreditation system for training establishments, maintains mandatory programmes of professional development, provides codes of conduct, ethics and practise, has a complaints mechanism and disciplinary procedures, requires members to have professional indemnity insurance, represents the profession, patients and the public through participation in external processes such as regulation of the profession and herbal medicine.


How Medical Herbalists are Regulated

Western Medical Herbalists are trained in the same orthodox medical science as doctors, as well as the art of traditional herbal medicine.

 All members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH)have undergone a rigorous four year training and adhere to a strict professional code of ethics. They have the initials MNIMH or FNIMH after their names.

 All members of the NIMH must undertake continuing professional development and carry full professional insurance.