The avenue 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 typically inadequate approach of – match the illness/symptom with the herb), person-based therapy first takes into consideration the individual. The herbal consultation lets the herbalist ask the right questions, 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 native (and non-native too) plants, to people, for a therapeutic result. The interface of correct plant identification, the plant’s collection and/or preparation, channeled as a botanical medicine, with the goal of an effective treatment, is the conceptual overlay. What this means for the client, this merger of botany, which is primarily hands-on, co-mingled 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 rather 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 medicine 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 polar 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, which is an entirely different subject). 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, even if the correct tool (herb/s) has been selected, it still needs to be applied properly. An herbalist’s familiarity with organic chemistry 101 is important.