In recent months I have given over fifteen talks to local social and support groups. More recently these have included Women's Institute (WI) groups as I am now on the West Kent WI speakers list. I have four more in the pipeline, and no one has mentioned the need to pose for a calendar photograph!
My talks explain what herbal medicine is, some history of its use, and why there has been a resurgence in interest. I take the audience through a Cook's tour of the conditions that respond particularly well to herbal treatment, how to take herbal medicine, and examples of different herbs and their actions.
I then detail the benefits of visiting a Medical Herbalist as compared to buying over the counter preparations and I am also keen to promote the use of herbs for self-care. I also explain ways of using fresh herbs from the garden.
I provide anonymised examples of patients who have responded well to herbal treatment explaining a little of their condition and the herbs I used for treatment.
My talks emphasise that many of the traditional uses of herbal medicine are now supported by recent scientific research and evidence. While we have all gained enormously from orthodox treatment, herbal medicine can be very effective for certain conditions and offers another choice of treatment. The reasons that people often visit me are that orthodox treatment has not been effective, side effects outweigh benefits, or they are looking for a more natural form of treatment.
I finish by suggesting future roles for herbal medicine in reducing long term drug treatment for chronic conditions, as an alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of infections and in the support of cancer treatment.
The groups I have talked with are always very welcoming and interested in herbal medicine. There is often interesting discussion on topics such as the shortcomings of the NHS, ways in which people have used herbal medicine and media coverage of different herbs. I am usually asked what herbal treatments would be beneficial for specific conditions.
It is interesting that those people most likely to have used herbal medicines in their families often come from other European countries. We tend to have lost the traditional use of herbs passed down from family members in the UK.
Although people express an interest in a consultation few have so far actually booked an appointment. Hopefully they will remember my talk and consider a visit in the future if the need should arise.