“I feel very fortunate to have found Roberta and to have received her herbal support over a period of time. She is an excellent herbal medicine practitioner, a very good listener, and adept at prescribing bespoke herbs to best support in a holistic way. Alongside that, she gave me some helpful advice on other lifestyle and dietary matters – always in a compassionate, understanding, and non-judgmental way. I highly recommend Roberta for support during key health changes and also to help with navigating the ups and downs of life in general.”
What can Herbal Medicine help you with?
Herbalists believe that herbal medicines can have a significant role to play in the treatment of the a wide range of conditions including:
- Skin disease, including eczema, psoriasis, acne, acne rosacea, urticaria
- Gastrointestinal disorders, including acid indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, inflammatory bowel disease
- Gynaecological conditions, including premenstrual syndrome and dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, infertility
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Respiratory conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, and chronic coughs, rhinitis and sinusitis
- Arthritic conditions (e.g. osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Urinary conditions including chronic cystitis, urinary tract infections, kidney stones
- Psychological problems (e.g. depression, anxiety).
Seeing a Herbalist – the Consultation
An initial consultation lasts for around one hour, during which time a detailed case history is taken. Current, past and family medical history is explored, along with your diet and lifestyle, in order to find out how you arrived in your current state of health and what treatment would best help you. I aim to provide a caring, supportive environment and all consultations are kept strictly confidential.
Qualified herbalists are trained to use the same diagnostic skills as a GP. Physical examinations, such as taking your blood pressure, will be carried out with your consent, where appropriate. With your agreement, a referral back to your GP for further tests can be made if necessary.
An assessment of your case, a schedule for treatment and any suggestions for dietary and lifestyle changes will be discussed with you.
Seeing a Herbalist – the treatment
Your medicine will usually consist of an individualised blend of tinctures (liquid plant extracts) to be taken three times a day. You may also be provided with tablets, tea, capsules and/or cream if required.
You will be given enough medicine for around ten days after your first consultation. We will speak on the telephone after one week to see how you are getting along with the medicine and then more medicine can either be collected from the Exeter practice or posted to you.
Follow-up appointments are usually made at intervals of two to eight weeks to monitor your progress. You can ring the Exeter practice on weekday mornings (01392 213899) to ask for more medicine if you think you will run out before your next appointment.
The time-scale of treatment depends on your condition and how long you have had it. In acute conditions treatment can be very quick and may not require follow-ups. With chronic conditions treatment will take longer, but you will not need to take the medicine forever!
The aim is to help your body into a state of health where you no longer need the medicine. Although herbal medicine and other diet and lifestyle modifications can also be used as preventative medicine – prevention is always better than cure!
What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine, also known as phytotherapy, is the use of plant remedies to prevent and treat ill health. Herbal medicine is the oldest and most universal system of medicine known, currently relied on by around 85% of the world’s population.
Modern western herbal medicine is based on a combination of traditional knowledge, clinical experience, an understanding of medical sciences and the scientific evidence base for herbal medicine.
Herbal medicines are not used in the same way as modern drugs. Whilst many pharmaceutical drugs originated from plants, it is their active constituent which has been isolated, synthesised and then used to suppress symptoms or ‘attack’ a disease.
Herbal medicines consist of extracts of part(s) of the whole plant (roots, leaves, flowers, bark, berries) and are prescribed to assist the body in healing itself.
A herbalist aims to seek and treat the underlying cause of ill health, with the treatment focusing on the individual patient and not the condition.
First Consultation: £50
Follow up appointments: £35 (for up to 45 minutes)
£20 for a 20 minute drop in
Cost of herbal medicines:
An individualised herbal tincture costs about £9 per week including postage.
Herbal tablets cost £20 per pot of 60.
You may also be prescribed creams or herbal teas, or recommended a variety of supplements that you can purchase from the Natural Dispensary.
Drop In – Acute conditions
If you have an acute (short-term) condition such as a cough, cold, sore throat or other short-term illness that has not been recurring, then you may come for a shorter consultation known as a drop in.
A briefer medical history will be taken and you will be prescribed herbs for a short period of time.
Evidence for herbal treatment:
The EHTPA have developed a great website with lots of information about seeing a herbalist and herbal medicine – www.herbalist.org.uk
They have a really comprehensive page about the conditions herbal medicine might be able to help you with and the evidence for herbal treatment.
In response to an independent review of submitted clinical evidence herbal practitioners may claim to treat the following specific conditions but this list should not be taken as complete by any means as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
- functional dyspepsia
- irritable bowel syndrome
- premenstrual syndrome
- back pain
- some acute infections (common cold, rhinosinusitis, uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infections, type A and B influenza).
What is a Medical Herbalist?
A qualified western medical herbalist, otherwise known as a Herbal Practitioner, has undertaken University level training including study of medical sciences, diagnostic skills, pharmacology, materia medica and herbal therapeutics, in addition to completion of a minimum of 500 hours of supervised clinical training, qualifying with a BSc in Herbal Medicine (Phytotherapy).
Western medical herbalists use primarily British, European and North American herbs, although some Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs are also used.
Qualified herbalists of all traditions should belong to a professional practitioner organisation where all members are covered by full professional insurance and adhere to a strict professional code of ethics. To find a trusted herbalist look out for the HerbMark.