When you come to see me, I emphasise how you will be prescribed a bespoke mix of five or six herbs in one bottle.
During your first consultation, even if you turn up with the most common of “common ailments”, I’ll almost never decide while you’re still sitting there exactly what I’m going to give you. I don’t leave you, go to my dispensary, and reach for my large bottle of “IBS herbal mix” or “eczema herbal mix” or “insomnia herbal mix”, decant it into a smaller bottle, and write your name on it. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, your herbal mix is specifically for you only and takes into account the whole of you.
So, being absolutely rubbish at separating home and work once I have a bee in my bonnet or a patient on my mind, on my way home I’ll be thinking about what herbs might suit you best. I will probably have a few in mind at this point. I will formally write up your patient notes, and refer back to any previous consultations we may have had if this is not your first visit to me.
Once I get back to my books, I’ll refresh my knowledge of your condition by looking it up in my medical textbooks. I’ll read about any prescribed medication you are taking in my copy of the BNF (British National Formulary) – which is what your GP and pharmacist use. I’ll check any blood test results you might have given me. I’ll then look at my herbal medicine textbooks to see if the herbs I’m thinking of would be suitable or if there are others that may be more appropriate. I often book onto continuing professional development (CPD) courses with a particular patient in mind. I search through the latest scientific research papers to see if there are any recent developments in dealing with your condition herbally. I may talk to my fellow medical herbalists to see if they have had experience in treating your particular condition and what has worked for them. By now, I’ll probably have a good idea of the herbs I might want to prescribe you. More often than not, I’ll sleep on it – often in the morning I’m clearer about what I want to do.
Once I’ve got your prescription almost finalised in my mind, I check each herb with each and every drug or supplement you’ve told me you’re taking as some interactions can be dangerous or cause unwanted side effects. Then I can make up your prescription! So you can see that many hours go into each patient after I’ve seen them. As an example, I recently spent three very enjoyable days researching prescription medicine interactions with herbs I planned to prescribe for a patient who was under a hospital consultant, to ensure not just a safe and controlled herbal prescription but also to be certain that the herbs I was prescribing would have the maximum impact and success.
Your money is gratefully received and goes towards new reference books, regular training courses, subscriptions to herbal and medical journals and my time!