My first encounter with a doctor about the use of alternative (herbal) remedies came when our elder daughter broke her arm. I brought in a book by Richard Mabey, which showed the chemical constituents of the herbs I wanted to use. He said, “It won’t help, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead.”
Two weeks later, he x-rayed her arm again and commented that the herbs might be working. When he took the cast off two weeks ahead of schedule, he asked me for the names of the herbs I used.
While this is still a problem with some doctors, many more are at least being introduced to alternative medicine during their schooling. Some schools even offer training in complementary medicine. The one below is a good example.
University of Maryland School of Complementary Medicine
This school and its website are one of the best sources for alternative medicine. They have a list of several common herbs. The history, common uses, studies, side effects, interactions and even dosage instruction make it an ideal tool for those who wish to use alternative medicine…and do it safely.
If it wasn’t so amusing, it would be a major frustration. Many people, including some in orthodox medicine, do not realize that without herbs they wouldn’t have the medicines. Many assume that the tablets and capsules they swallow are synthesized, scientific medicine. They’re half right…it is scientific medicine. However, without plants like foxglove and the Pacific yew, we wouldn’t have digitalis and taxol.
Even though I am a master herbalist, I still go to the doctor’s office when something is wrong. I’m fortunate enough to have a doctor who embraces alternative medicine when they are appropriate treatment.
I have had doctors who were so clueless they didn’t even know what a master herbalist does. Some of them are infuriating. Fortunately for them, I can keep my mouth shut until I am over my anger. In one particular case, I asked him how he’d feel if I told him he had to stop using a particular test because I didn’t understand it.
The man was bright enough to realize it was better to work with me than without, especially as I hauled in some of my books, written by doctors. All it takes is a little education. He now recommends two herbs to his patients and uses the warnings about others these books reported.
I firmly believe that modern medicine not only can work with alternative medicine, I believe it must. Leaving the legal aside for the moment, I know I can’t diagnose someone’s medical condition. I know that I can’t prescribe medications. I don’t have the training. What I and other herbalists can do is to work with the doctors for the best interests of the patient…even if that patient is me.