Synergy and Holism
The foundation of Herbal Medicine lies within its synergetic and holistic approach. It recognises the complex web of interacting factors which can cause ailments, disease and infections and observes a patient’s life as a whole within its set context. Factors such as bodily symptoms, dietary causes, psychological and emotional aspects are all taken into consideration. In Herbal Medicine the focus is on what weakness within the body gave rise to the disease. What weakness did the “seed” of infection find in the body to sprout and cause disease? It dares to ask the question why some people get sick from a diseases and others do not. This is in contrast to mainstream medicine which is based on the “germ theory of disease” and solely focuses on eradicating a “bug” or health condition.
Used appropriately, herbs are meant to work in tune with our bodies to strengthen and support our overall health. This can be achieved by gently stimulating or constraining actions of specific cells and messenger molecules. Therefore, working towards finding inner balance and harmony between all interactions of our one hundred trillion cells making up our body. Ideally, the constant re-balancing, strengthening and nurturing of our bodies is practiced daily. Using a holistic health approach whereby we are attuned with our bodies and reserve conventional medicine for severe illness, specific health conditions or surgery.
Medical scientists can find it hard to believe that herbs with their variable constituents and complex chemical make-up can be as good as chemicals in curing certain diseases. Research into various natural remedies, however, has shown that this can be the case and often comes with less side-effects. Some examples for this include St. John wort as antidepressant and Indian gooseberry as liver-protectant. To the surprise of many scientists, the whole plant with its complex interaction of constituents can exhibit a greater therapeutic effect than the equivalent dose of the isolated active component.
Research into the therapeutic effect of one herb or one “active ingredient” may not suffice to appreciate and value the immense benefit of Herbal Medicine. Often a combination of specific herbs which all interact with each other in perfect harmony is required for the maximum effect. The application of Herbal Medicine requires skill and knowledge, particularly given the complexity of the founding principles, holism and synergy, which are complex concepts in themselves. It requires a personalised and individual approach to health and healing. Perhaps this is the magic within Herbal remedies which is so hard to fathom.