Many of us suffer from digestive problems: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heartburn, ulcers, indigestion, bloating, wind, constipation. A medical herbalist aims to not only relieve the symptoms, but also to give advice on diet and lifestyle, to try and remove the cause of the problem.
Digestive complaints can be influenced by a number of factors including:
They can also be affected by other conditions, including stress levels, any sub-optimal aspects of health (e.g. supressed immune system), etc.
In order to treat a digestive problem the herbalist will take a full consultation during which they will try to establish any underlying causes or factors which make the symptoms experienced worse. They will also ask questions about your bowel movements, so please don’t feel embarrased, it something that is talked about all the time. At the end of the consultation the herbalist will normally prescribe herbs or other supplements. These can take the form of: tinctures to take before food to stimulate the digestive process (e.g. bitter herbs); herbs that are taken regularly to prevent pain (e.g. antispasmodic herbs); herbs that “calm and heal” the digestive tract (e.g. anti-inflammatory herbs). The herbalist may also recommend dietary supplements such as a source of fibre or probiotics (friendly bacteria). Eating, dietary and lifestyle changes are recommended in some cases. To get a fuller picture of the causes a food diary may be requested (a record of foods eaten and symptoms exerienced each day).
In follow up visits the herbalist is able to adjust the prescription (for example adding or removing herbs, changing dosages or giving further advice) until the desired outcome is achieved.