“It’s nice to have someone looking out for me” said one of my patients earlier this week. She’d been doing really well on her herbal medicine but over the past few weeks she’d developed some new symptoms, most likely due to being perimenopausal. She’d already made a GP appointment for the following day, and I explained that they’d probably send her for some blood tests, but if they didn’t, I’d write and ask on her behalf. As it turned out, they did, and soon we should have some insight as to what’s happening. But she’s not the first patient of mine to have made this comment, and lead me to realise that many people don’t really appreciate what a Medical Herbalist actually does.
More and more these days I’m finding myself doing what Doctors used to do, but no longer have time for. The days when GPs had were able to spend time talking to patients in depth about their health issues have long gone. That’s as frustrating for them as it is for their patients, who are often left wanting more answers, a listening ear and some reassurance. I feel very privileged to be able to offer my patients this good old fashioned care, and a human connection even when we’re working by telemedicine. If a patient is in need of some extra support, I do have time to ring and see how they are and occasionally I’m the only person who does!. If they appear to need some extra tests, or referral to a specialist, I write to their Doctor to ask for them, and sometimes (not always!) the Doctor appreciates having a new perspective on that patient’s case. One gentleman I’ve worked with recently was seeing his GP about the same skin problem for 15 years before we worked out between us that he’d probably been misdiagnosed. Tests confirmed that he had been, and he’s now fine.
What You Get When You Work With A Medical Herbalist
So here is what I do as a Medical Herbalist. This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you a good idea.
- Listening to my patient’s story, doing any physical examinations necessary, and rechecking results of any tests they’ve had so far.
- Explaining my perspective on how they’ve ended up so unwell, and usually we explore the psycho-emotional aspects as well as the physical ones.
- Putting together a tailor made herbal prescription to start addressing their health problems in order of priority. Quite often that includes checking interactions databases beforehand to make sure that the herbs will not interfere with their prescribed medications. Given the amount of medication that some people are on, this can take a very long time!
- Answering any questions they may have about their conventional or herbal treatment.
- Advising them on diet and lifestyle changes which would help them.
- Researching their case if it’s particularly complicated, writing to their Doctor to explain their herbal treatment or ask for tests or referrals.
- Making sure my patients are doing ok between appointments, monitoring how they’re getting on, and dispensing enough medicine to get them the results they’re after.
So as you can see, working with a Medical Herbalist isn’t just about using gentle, natural medicines to treat illness. Our profession is becoming increasingly more medical, and we’re able to plug that gaps left by a struggling NHS. My job is to look after each of my patients in any way I can, and I take that very seriously. Of course there’s a financial investment to be made, but we really can’t put a price on good health and being chronically ill is far more expensive! Private healthcare really can be lifesaving, and allowing someone else to take care of you on that level is as powerful as the medicine itself.
Is it time you let someone else care for you?
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