What Does An Herbalist Do?
Herbalists focus on supporting and maintaining health rather than fighting disease. Many herbalists believe the strength of botanicals is their capacity to support the body as it finds its healing path. In other words, the focus of practice is not placed on herbs “fixing” you, but rather on nurturing your intrinsic capacity for healing. Our herbalists are trained to provide personalized herbal formulas, as well as lifestyle and dietary recommendations, during your consultation. A large part of your work together will focus on learning to listen and respond to your body’s signals. This emphasis on self-care encourages you to develop a deep connection with your body.
Chinese Herbal Medicine is the most widely practiced herbal tradition in the world. It has a rich and sophisticated system of diagnosis to address a variety of conditions. According to the oldest text, herbal medicine can be used for three reasons: to alleviate specific symptoms (the lowest level of treatment), to rectify imbalances in the body (the middle level), and to promote longevity (the highest level). This ancient perspective is still with us in the Natural Care Center as we create herbal formulations to address the complexities of the whole person.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What type of herbs are used and how are they administered?
- What happens during a consultation?
- What model of care is available?
- Where can I go to purchase herbal products that are recommended to me?
- How do I make an appointment?
The Chinese pharmacopeia is not limited to botanicals. It actually employs plants, trees, minerals, and even animal products in its formulations. MUIH maintains an extensive on-site herbal dispensary.
Chinese herbal medicine is almost always prescribed in formulas, not as individual herbs. Each formula is specifically tailored to assist an individual’s movement toward improved health. As with people, the relationships between individual medicinals potentiate various qualities within them. Combinations work synergistically to balance the complex dysfunctions of the client. Prescribing herbs in this way not only makes certain qualities more powerful, it also reduces side effects and aids digestion.
MUIH’s Chinese herb dispensary primarily uses “raw herb,” which means that the dried and often prepared medicinals are given to the patient to cook at home. The cooking process is extremely simple and easy and your practitioner will provide you with detailed instructions on how this is done. Many patients report they enjoy cooking their formulas. Being able to see, touch, and cook the herbs makes many people feel more connected to the healing process. The herbs may also be administered as granulated powders, tea, encapsulations, or tinctures.
During the initial consultation, the practitioner will discuss with you all of your reasons for seeking herbal treatment. The discussion will include a summary of your body’s systems, your medical and social history, and your diet and lifestyle. A nuanced pulse and tongue diagnosis are an essential part of the consultation, as well. There also may be palpation of your abdomen and limbs.
Following the consultation, the practitioner will prescribe an herbal formula that will be filled in our herbal dispensary. You can choose to wait for the prescription to be filled or arrange with your practitioner to pick up the formula at a later time.
The Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture programs are integrated at MUIH. All of the Chinese herbal student interns are also acupuncture interns or licensed acupuncturists. Many patients also choose to combine their herbal consultation with acupuncture treatment.
So that the practitioner may have the clearest picture of your health, please refrain from applying strong fragrances, drinking caffeine, or eating foods that may discolor your tongue, such as blueberries or chewing gum, for at least two hours before your appointment.
Where can I go to purchase herbal products that are recommended to me?
Product recommendations made by your herbalist can be purchased at MUIH’s Herbal Dispensary, where herbs will be formulated according to the practitioner’s specifications. You are also free to purchase herbs wherever you choose, and your practitioner can supply you with a list of local resources.
How do I make an appointment?
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Natural Care Center at 410-888-9048 ext. 6614 or email NaturalCareCenter@muih.edu.