There is a wonderful revival of folk herbal medicine happening now, and I love that this is making herbs more accessible to people. Whether it is super-herbs with huge reputations like ginseng or reishi, grown in distant exotic countries, or the humble dandelion, sage or fennel growing in our backyard or neighbourhood, herbs have many, many gifts, if we only open up to wonder and curiosity about them.
Herbal medicine belongs to everyone, and it is accessible to most people in various forms, from a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea, to putting medicinal mushrooms and garlic in our stew, to lavender essential oil in our bath. It is the worlds most accessible and popular form of medicine- and for many, their only form.
Much scientific research is being done in the area of herbs, frequently validating traditional usage. However this approach, while important to validate herbal usage, tends to reduce herbs to their chemical constituents, and just as we are more than our blood and biochemistry, so are plants. They have complexity and perception, intelligently responding to their environments. So when we explore them, we are engaging with them on many levels, whether we realise it or not. The pharmaceutical approach to herbs tends to use very concentrated products, which can have strong effects on a physical level, wheras a wholistic approach often uses more gentle, safer doses which stimulate the innate vitality and healing within the body. Both methods have their place.
I use essential oils as potent plant medicines in their own right, often in conjunction with herbs. Essential oils need to be treated with respect as the powerful, precious substances they are. They have a long tradition of use in European countries including appropriate internal useage, which I am trained in. The herbal blends I make for my patients may contain essential oils in small quantities to potentise the blend. Essential oils have many, many uses, and I use a variety of Australian and internationally sourced essential oils for many conditions. I do not use multi-level marketed oils and will not try to sign you up to any program.
Susan Deeley- Medical Herbalist and Aromatic Medicine Practitioner
My passion for herbs arose when I was a teenager and is still just as strong several decades later. I love to make my own herbal medicines where I can, from herbs I grow or wildcraft myself, and I also source herbs as ethically as I can. Herbs are a doorway to reconnect with the vitality of nature and with different aspects of ourselves.
Even though we have so many ways to take our herbal medicine, as below....I like to remember, and to remind my clients, that these come from plants, as we can lose sight of that.
Herbal tinctures can be made from fresh or dried plants, and are usually made with ethanol because it is so good at drawing out the medicinal qualities of the plants. However ethanol is itself not particularly good for us, so I try to minimise how much is left in the final product. SYRUPS & ELIXIRS are similar to tinctures but made with honey or a combination of honey and alcohol.
As stated above, I use essential oils to potentise herbal blends, and internally and externally when indicated. They can add a powerful dimension to herbal medicine. I am well trained in the safe use of essential oils.
Powders & Superfoods
I often use herbal powders containing superfoods and herbs such as cacao, ginseng and reishi, to make individualised blends for clients that can be made into hot drinks or added to smoothies. It is so beneficial to taste our herbal medicines and many taste delicious.
Teas & Infusions
Herbal teas are very popular and many blends can be found in health food stores. These are an excellent alternative to coffee and tea, and I recommend their use. However, I usually work with herbal infusions and decoctions with clients, because these are much stronger than herbal teas, and involve steeping larger quantities of herbs for a longer time, for a stronger effect.
Flower essences are more subtle and work on an emotional and energetic level. For many people flower essences help them move through difficult emotional situations more easily, and these are a beautiful adjunct to herbal blends.
Tablets & Capsules
I use these when needed, especially for particularly bitter herbs, or products which contain strong, concentrated extracts when these are indicated.