Dr Google has a lot to answer for.
Let’s talk for a bit about self medicating, with anything at all. Heaps of people self medicate, using everything from vitamins to food, to pharmaceuticals, alcohol and illicit drugs as a means of relief for some issue, of some description.
Health insurance reforms
Recently, health insurance companies have gone through a number of reforms and plan to exclude a number of natural therapies from their rebate system. Although neither acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine are included in this (not many funds cover Chinese herbal medicine consults alone, and it requires specialised, high-end cover, mostly at a more expensive premium), Western herbal medicine has been. The rationale for its exclusion is sketchy at best. The report can be found here. It says that although they can’t make any claims that herbal medicine does not work, because the countless studies on efficacy, mechanism of action, chemistry and pharmacology prove otherwise. What they are negating is the need for a qualified therapist to prescribe them.
Here are 5 BIG reasons why you need a herbalist:
Right herb. Right thing. Right time.
You might be taking the wrong thing. Not every herb is applicable to every person in every situation, under the holistic model. A herbalist knows what you need, when you need it.
A herbalist knows if there are any side effects to a single herb, or a herbal combination. Seeing a qualified professional minimises harm from side effects. For example, many people take St John’s Wort for depression. Did you know that St John’s Wort also causes photosensitivity and can increase UV absorption from the sun? No? You can bet that your herbalist did.
A herbalist who is registered with a professional association is usually trained in evidence based medicine as well as holistic healing. They have studied herbs, their actions & indications (what they do and what they are used for under what context) and their interactions, in great detail. They know their herbs inside and out, both holistically and biomedically.
Heads up on serious problems
A herbalist will be able to identify red flags for more serious illnesses, report the illness, and/or refer on to a GP or other services if further testing is required. Dr Google can only help you so much.
“It’s natural! It must be safe!” Erm, no. *think again*
People assume that because herbs and vitamins are derived from natural sources that they must be safe. Whilst this is true in a lot of cases where people use culinary herbs (like mint, ginger, sage & chamomile), some herbs can be quite toxic if used in the wrong quantities for the wrong context. A herbalist will always work from a carefully considered diagnosis to find the right thing for you, specifically.