Allopathic Herbalist, what in the world is that? Recently I wrote a blog post for another web-site; www.christianherbal.org explaining what a Clinical Herbalist is and how we work with clients. This caused me to consider the need for a further explanation. The word “clinical” has a way of throwing people off course.
Before we discuss, in greater detail, what a Clinical Herbalist is, let’s look at what I mean by an Allopathic Herbalist. I hope you will endure the length of this article as the best comes at the end!
The term allopathic is often used to describe the Western Medicine mode of healthcare, sadly a large amount of herbalism has become very similar. The American medical system is the most descriptive picture I can provide for you. This mode of healthcare, while having its importance, is inept to provide true, deep healing. In all reality, it provides sick-care, not healthcare. If you partake in this model of medicine, you will be provided approximately 15 minutes for your appointment, to include any study time your practitioner spends with your health record. Diagnostic testing has advanced to a high degree and offers us many benefits, unfortunately many doctors rely completely on these tests, having either forgotten, or more likely, never been taught the art of studying their patients by observation and conversation. In addition, if you utilize multiple practitioners, they may contradict or overlook each other which can lead to grave results in your health. A vast amount of your M.D.’s current treatment protocols are provided by the pharmaceutical rep. that regularly visits the office with literature and samples of the latest drugs on the market. Which brings us to treatments.
Treatment options within the allopathic medical system almost always include pharmaceuticals. When people don’t feel well, they have a strong desire to feel better, quick! Your physician knows this and usually has the ‘pill to fit the bill’. The problem is, that is often where it stops, no other considerations and no other plan for complete wellness, just feel better right now.
While it may seem as though I am overly critical of this mode of medicine, let me offer a balance. Your doctor may see as many as 30 or more patients a day, make hospital rounds and be on call for after hour emergencies, they live a dizzy, fast paced life. They have spent a lot of time and money on their education and need to make their careers successful. Many, many of them have a servant’s heart but are trapped in a system that will never allow them to live this desire out. Nurses fall into this same exact situation and these people work tirelessly to help folks. It’s the system that is broken and I want to make it clear that I am not singling out the individuals within the system.
So, this is a quick peek into the window of allopathic medicine. Now, take this picture and lay it over the term “Allopathic Herbalist” and you will have an almost perfect picture of what I wish to describe for you. An herbalist working within this framework is going to leave you wanting. They offer lots of ‘bandage medicine’ that differs only in the medicine of choice from the allopathic medical world.
Have you ever felt sick and ran to the health food store for ‘something to help you feel better’? There you encounter isles marked “immune” or “allergies” and see all the bottles of goodness without one idea which one to choose? Then, from heaven, it seems, a helpful employee tells you, if you have a cold try ABC, it always works. The only problem is; do you really have a cold or is it something that only looks like a cold? If it truly is a cold, why did you catch it, and do you really want the cough to stop, what is your underlying picture that may or may not cause that remedy to be right for you? A hundred other questions should be answered before you grab your wonder bottle from the shelf.
This little example is what I mean by the difference between an Allopathic Herbalist and a Clinical Herbalist. With an allopathic picture, you just want to feel better and you don’t really care about anything else. Many a helpful and often knowledgeable herbalist, in their quest to help, is willing to offer you the quick one/two in an effort to help you feel better. In some cases, this is all that is needed and will work beautifully for the here and now, but won’t do a thing to help you build true wellness.
By contrast, a Clinical Herbalist will separate from this mode, almost entirely. They do care, very deeply that you are sick but their knowledge leads them to know that the sickness has come about due to layers of issues that must be addressed. So while they may offer you some immediate help to feel better, their real concern is why you are sick and they will address that for lasting results. They will make you feel like you are writing a book when you provide the intake paperwork they need to properly access your situation. They will take that valuable information and spend hours on end, if necessary, studying it and diving deep into the issues they see within those pages. After this, many more hours will be spent with you, talking, observing, talking, observing. While any diagnostic test information you have will be very helpful, this will be far from the core of information your Clinical Herbalist will be using. Their goal is to teach you the truths you need to know to build your health and create total wellness. It is a long, detailed process but it is lasting and deep in its results. Clinical Herbalism, in my mind, is akin to the Slow Food movement. We need to slow down, think deeply, act rightly and carefully, to build nurturing and health into our lives by this process.
As you could guess, a Clinical Herbalist works mostly with chronic illness/injury profiles. They are more than able and willing to help you with acute and accident situations but a standing relationship is beneficial, even for the more immediate needs.
A Clinical Herbalist has been trained to look at all the fine details of you! In addition, they know all the fine details of the plant medicine they work with. Within allopathic medicine we see pharmaceuticals that are sometimes created from plants but usually amount to other substances. Within the allopathic mode of herbalism, we often see the isolated constituents, the active ingredient, taken from the whole plant, in an effort to make the remedy more effective. The problem with this is that the Creator who made these plants, created them whole and complete and when single components are taken alone, they often are no longer effective. One example of this is Hawthorn, an excellent cardiovascular tonic. German researchers thought that the active benefit from this berry came from the flavonoids, especially the one known as vitexin-O-rhamnoside, so they isolated that from the rest of the plant hoping to increase its effectiveness but instead found it to be non-effective altogether. In addition, they fed the berries to animals, minus this specific flavonoid, it was equally ineffective. Only when used as a whole food/berry does the benefit get seen. To take this example a bit further, some folks could benefit from using Hawthorn berries, others might need the leaves, others still may need an entirely different plant or a combination of plants. In some cases, a syrup would be best but in others a tincture is the right fit, for others still, a tea blended with other herbs might be what is needed or perhaps another herb altogether. These are the details you are paying your Clinical Herbalist to know. Only when all the details are combined can you truly experience herbalism as God created it.
In closing, the picture of the cactus is a visual example for me, of Allopathic Herbalism. While it looks beautiful, organized and purposeful, it is nearly impossible to get to the meat of it, or center where real healing takes place. I would share, if you fall and scrap up your knees, then by all means, grab the Calendula salve. Learn all you can about how to care for yourself using herbs and safely put into practice what you learn, but source your information carefully, and don’t fall into the quick, easy trap of following an Allopathic Herbalism model. If, however, your needs are complicated and serious, or you find you desire a deeper level of wellness then you currently have, find a good Clinical Herbalist and work with them to create the health you deserve. Take your time and allow them to do the same, your quality of life will vastly improve and that is our Father’s desire, see 3 John 2. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.