The basis for a successful therapeutic outcome is the in-person 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, that would have otherwise been missed if the interaction took place via phone or email. Unlike protocol-based therapy (a limited approach of matching illness/symptom to herbal medicine), person-based therapy first takes into consideration the individual. The herbal consultation allows the herbalist to ask the right questions so he better understands the physiological subtleties of the client, which allows a better fine-tuning of the herbal answer.
Applied Medical Botany
I view this phrase as a description for core herbal practice: the plying of wild/domestic plants, to people, for a therapeutic result. This behind-the-scenes trifecta of stages – correct plant identification, the item’s proper collection and/or preparation, and most importantly, the herbal medicine’s proper dispensing/dosing – are each integral stages of the practice of profession herbalism. What this means for the client, this merger of botany with the studies of medical physiology, chemistry, pharmacology (and other disciplines), is an herbal therapy that is well-considered, science-based, and most importantly, therapeutically relevant.
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 herbal preparations are equal in their effectiveness and/or ability to transfer that herb’s therapeutic benefits. 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, both, the correct tool (herb/s) needs to be selected and prepared properly. An herbalist’s familiarity with organic chemistry 101 is important.