What Is Holistic Herbal Healthcare?
Updated: Jan 27, 2020
HOLISTIC HERBAL HEALTHCARE INVOLVES MUCH MORE THAN JUST HERBS
Imagine this ... two women come to clinic seeking help for insomnia. They've both read in a magazine that a particular herb is good for 'sleep' and want to know if they can get some?
One woman (lets call her "Anna") is 22-years-old and drinks three coffees per day (her last one at 3pm). She participates in high energy exercise classes after work most evenings. By the time she gets home it's 9.30pm, so she often skips dinner altogether (or grabs a sugary snack). She relaxes by getting on her laptop and updating her social media pages. Anna feels 'wired' at night and doesn't feel sleepy until one or two am. If she tries to go to bed earlier she lies awake with her mind racing. When she does sleep, she doesn't sleep deeply, often looking at her phone to check the time. She's finding it hard to concentrate in the daytime, which is one reason she drinks coffee.
The other woman is 55-years-old (let's call her "Sue".) She works full-time and has two children in their early 20's. They still live at home and depend on her financially. She has been feeling increasingly irritable with her children and at work lately. Sue feels tired all the time and falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow. But she wakes most nights with #hotsweats, which sometimes happen in the day as well. The daytime ones are embarrassing. The night sweats can occur up to three times per night, making it difficult for her to fall asleep again.
Both of these women are experiencing #insomnia .However, the cause is very different for both of them.
SAME CONDITION - DIFFERENT CAUSE
22 year-old Anna is experiencing sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia. Caffeine is still affecting her well into the evening, even though she may not realise it. In addition, Anna's high-energy, night-time exercise routine is delaying the release of melatonin, which is one of the #hormones needed for sleep. Melatonin is released in the absence of light, so the light from the phone in her bedroom, plus late-night computer usage, are also delaying the release of melatonin. Anna's meals are irregular so blood sugar imbalance may be contributing to her sleep issues as well.
Sue on the other hand, can get to sleep but can't stay asleep. In her case this is mostly due to hot sweats caused by fluctuating hormonal levels. She appears to be in either #perimenopause or #menopause (I'd have to ask further questions to get clearer). Underlying #stress is likely a contributing factor as well. In addition, from a herbal medicine perspective, I would also look at her liver function, as well as dietary and lifestyle factors. Does she exercise? Does she spend any time outdoors? And does she have a social support network and #community outside of her family?
HOLISTIC HERBAL HEALTHCARE
I hope it's clear from this example, that Anna and Sue would be prescribed quite different herbs? 55-year-old Sue needs herbs to help modulate her #hormones and reduce hot sweats. Nervous system (#nervoussystem) support and possibly liver support may also be appropriate. And a few minor dietary and lifestyle 'tweaks' may help as well. On the other hand, many of 22-year-old Anna's symptoms could be resolved via lifestyle and dietary modifications. For example, reducing or eliminating caffeine (and ensuring that if she does have coffee, she has her last one in the morning); avoiding extreme exercise late at night and substituting with something like Restorative or Yin Yoga; removing the phone from the bedroom; staying off the computer at night, etc. Plus she could incorporate some calming rituals a couple of hours before bed, such as reading a relaxing book, taking a bath, sipping a calming herbal tea, etc. Herbal nervous system support could also be of assistance to Anna. But the herbs will be so much more effective if they are used alongside dietary and lifestyle modifications. So as you can see, holistic herbal medicine involves so much more than 'just herbs'. One of my inspirations, Herbalist Lucy Jones (from the Myrobalan Clinic in the UK) wrote about this recently https://www.instagram.com/p/Bsi4hcXl7mB/
NEED HELP UNRAVELLING YOUR OWN HEALTH STORY?
If you are in Australia and feel that Holistic Herbal Healthcare could benefit you, feel free to contact me. I am a degree qualified medical herbalist, available for consultations at The Urban Herbalist clinic in Geelong (Victoria) or online. You can book a FREE Discovery Call or other consultation here
Please note that this blog is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as being a substitute for professional advice from your health professional.