The heart of professional herbal therapy is the consultation. This time allows the client to fully relay information about the problem and provides the herbalist with an opportunity to understand the nuances of the client’s situation. Another way to think about it – this interaction allows the herbalist to ask the right questions so he better understands the physiological subtleties of the client, which then allows a better fine-tuning of the herbal answer. The consultation is also the gateway to person-based herbal therapy (as opposed to boilerplate-based therapy – xyz herb for xyz problem). This deeper type of herbalism considers the client’s physiological totality (genetics, constitution, demeanor, appearance, and other nuances), which remains largely undiscovered if the intellectual curiosity stops at this herb for that problem. In a nutshell – the consultation allows the herbal process to begin properly.
Constitutional Herbal Medicine
Addressing not just the outward symptom, but too the underlying pattern of dysfunction, the application of constitutional herbal medicine favors an approach that is investigative and in-depth. Symptoms are easy to recognize. However, discovering the physiological/genetic tendency, which symptoms (manifested distress) arise from, is an all-together different matter. This approach takes some observational skill and experience on the part of the herbalist. Herbal effectiveness is best achieved when the herbs are matched to the individual (or physiological/genetic tendency), and not just the outward symptom of distress.
Correct Herbal Preparation
Once the most effective herb or herbs have been selected, it’s also important to establish the proper mode of delivery for those herbs. Not all preparations are equal in their effectiveness and/or ability to transfer therapeutic benefit. Teas (a water extract) are fine for communicating an herb’s water-soluble constituents. Tincture’s and fluidextract’s are preparations better-geared for relaying both polar and non-polar constituents (that is, as long as the herb has been tinctured properly). A spirit (an alcohol-diluted essential oil) is one preferred vehicle for non-polar chemicals (mostly aromatic terpenes); however, it contains no flavonoids, saponins, and many other compounds, which may or may not be important to that particular herb’s therapeutic potential. In other words, the correct tool (herb/s) needs to be selected, and that tool needs to be prepared properly.