People Use Herbalism Because It Works Better

176461~Still-Life-Drying-Herbs-and-Spices-PostersA recent study in Great Britain queried people as to why they went to medical herbalists, a category of herbalists who have training much like Registered Herbalists of the American Herbalists Guild, people with the NCCAOM Oriental Medicine  Diplomate designation or other trained herbalists. Most of the patients had not initially sought out herbalists, but resorted to them when Western medicine failed to deal with usually chronic conditions.  Based upon the favorable outcomes, they decided that the medical herbalists generally did a better job of dealing with everyday health conditions and came for other conditions.

The authors noted that patients had a different idea of what constituted effective care than the doctors had, with a premium placed on collaborative care where patient and herbalist negotiated strategies to deal with the chronic conditions.  They also preferred the more natural herbal medicines to stronger pharmaceutical medicines with greater side effects.

Here is the abstract of the study:

Simply because it works better: Exploring motives for the use of medical herbalism in contemporary U.K. health care.

PMID: 19942632 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher

Complement Ther Med. 2009 October – December;17(5-6):300-308
Author: Little CV
AIM: To clarify the reasons underlying people’s use of medical herbalism in the context of contemporary U.K. health care.
DESIGN: This qualitative, interpretative study recruited 19 adults who were consulting with registered medical herbalists in a region of southern England. Participants were interviewed about their experiences and the data were analysed thematically. Study methodology was informed by Gadamerian hermeneutic phenomenology.
RESULTS: Few of the participants had initially set out to try herbalism, most looking for ‘an alternative’ to conventional health care. The main reason for exploring non-conventional options was to seek out health care that would more effectively meet their self-perceived needs in the treatment of a chronic condition. As a result of favourable outcomes from their initial treatment, participants subsequently continued to use herbalism for the management of more general, everyday health problems.
CONCLUSIONS: Lay and professional ideas about what constitutes health care ‘effectiveness’ do not necessarily correspond. Participants reported that, in comparison to conventional medicine, medical herbalism satisfied their expectations of health care because it more readily met their own criteria for effectiveness and because it had greater consistency with their own understanding about health, illness and health care. Central to achieving this was the collaborative nature of the herbalist’s approach, as well as the therapeutic effect and enduring history of the herbal therapy itself. Participants were in favour of a future integrative health care system provided this did not interfere with the unique attributes of herbalism that make it distinct from conventional medicine.
PMID: 19942110 [PubMed]


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