What Is Herbal Medicine?
By Robert Sena
Herbal medicine has been founded on the experience that the organism is a functional unit, under the directing influence of a self-regulating, self-correcting life force, a microcosm of the macrocosm of the planet. Herbal Medicine practitioners make decisions based on the energy pattern of the human organism, using energy of plants to balance the human energy back to homeostasis and fluidity. With this being said, it is extremely important to understand that within herbal therapeutics, an herbalist does not treat specific diseases, they treat the person that has the disease. Methods used, such as pulse diagnosis, tongue evaluation, appearance, skin, smell and voice are studied. These ways of understanding how diseases appear may seem primitive, but often, returning to and listening to the body is what has been neglected in the first place and is a big part of why the current ailment is manifesting.
The tongue attaches to the heart and is accepted in Traditional Chinese Medicine to geographically depict the current state of all five major organs in our body (heart, lungs, liver, kidney, spleen and stomach). This is one of many useful tools an herbal practitioner may use to confirm a patient’s evaluation upon the end of a session. Herbs like to be paired with each other and work much more effectively when formulated instead of being taken as a simple, or just one herb by itself. An herbalist formulates recipes, by tincture, glycerite (non-alcohol) or tea to be taken internally for three weeks minimum and changes the formula according to a patient’s progress. They curate formulas that work synergistically for a specific person—increasing the likelihood of reaching wellbeing and bringing the person into homeostasis.
Taking control of a person’s health not only means being diligent in seeking recovery, but it also means maintaining the freedom to have options. A system is in place where individuals lack choice in what is best for the individual. Alternative medicine and its benefits are currently not a part of Western mainstream medicine. Therefore, it is inevitable to lack the information and freedom to alternative choice. As complex organisms, these ailments are almost always multi-layered. Herbs are complex in their phytochemistry, as is a person’s biology. When natural bio-rhythms of the seasons are aligned, a person can see themselves open to a whole new experience of the human condition.
Robert Sena is a Master Herbalist, having completed his studies at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine in Ithaca, New York. He is currently studying at the David Winston School of Herbal Medicine. Sena also offers his expertise at Valley Integrative Pharmacy each week.