Herbal medicine involves an approach to medicine in which prevention, treatment and maintenance of health is addressed as part of the whole body system rather than in isolation.
In Ireland, herbal medicine is often referred to as ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ but in fact it is the most widely practiced form of medicine worldwide with over 80% of the world’s population relying on herbs for health.
As part of this approach, natural products are used to balance, or remedy deficiencies within the body. These products include but are not limited to whole plant based products. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin or probiotics, etc. may also be prescribed.
Other approaches also involve nutritional and lifestyle advice.
Irish people have used herbal medicine for their every day health care for centuries. Today it continues to be an effective form of treatment as infections become more resistant to antibiotics.
Previous generations discovered which plants were most effective in keeping them well and for healing their illnesses. They passed this knowledge on from generation to generation up to the 16th century, This was a learned and hereditary tradition in Ireland requiring many years of training both academically and clinically.
In recent years, modern research has reinforced and helped our understanding of many of these traditional uses.