what to expect working with a herbalist

What to expect? Working with a Herbalist

January 08, 2023

Herbal medicine has been around for centuries, but that doesn’t mean you know exactly what to expect when you decide to work with someone. Finding and working with a new practitioner of any modality can be exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time, especially when it’s a type of practice you may have never stepped into before. Each practitioner will have their own style of practice and may do things differently, but here are a few things to consider when you work with any herbalist.

When is it time to call your herbalist?

Some reasons to call, but are certainly not limited to:

  • At the beginning of an acute cold or flu
  • After an illness, to help convalescence and the bounce back
  • When you know you could feel better than you do currently
  • Low energy, low vitality - something non-specific
  • With chronic illness
  • When you need time to discuss your health with a skilled practitioner

How to get the most out of your consultation

Prior to the appointment:

  • Check in with yourself. Do a body scan - and ask yourself:
    • How am I feeling today?
    • How is my heart today?
    • Am I feeling any tension, and where might that be held?
    • How would I like to feel?
    • Is there something I can let go of?
    • What do I want to get from this?
  • You can take notes and bring them into the session, or they can be just for you. Pinpointing specific areas of tension, or feelings of emotion and where that shows up for someone can help practitioners zero in on the types of plants and their actions they think will suit the person best. Keeping notes can help the patient look back in the future to see how they were feeling before treatment even began.

During the appointment

  • Ask for clarity
    • If something feels confusing to you or unclear - you can ask for clarification. This is your appointment and it’s important to feel empowered

In between appointments

  • Taking notes in between sessions can be incredibly helpful for both patient and practitioner. 
  • Know the what and why behind your protocol.
    • Although it’s not important to know the exact reason behind every single herb or supplement, something I see often is patients coming in with a big list of supplements they have been taking for some time, and when it comes down to the reason for taking them, they often don’t know. Someone may have suggested taking X, while they read an article on taking Y - this is not inherently bad, but it’s not always necessary to be taking XYZ, and a trained practitioner can help simplify your treatment plan so you’re only taking what’s absolutely necessary. Simple treatment plans are better for longevity of treatment, as well as your wallet!
  • Do schedule a follow up
    • Check in’s or follow ups can be incredibly helpful. They can be quick chats or longer if needed - but this helps the practitioners know if they are on the right track regarding formulations, while helping the patient be accountable to someone. 
  • Take your herbs as directed
    • I can’t stress this enough. Herbal formulas are like food, they need to be continuously ingested in order to make physiological changes in the body. Therapeutic doses at regular times will be the most effective. Your practitioner will sort out the right therapeutic dose, but it’s up to the patient to take it as directed. If the method of formulation does not work for you, or the dose doesn’t feel right - let them know! There’s always another way to go about it.
  • The body is dynamic and ever-changing, so your formula can change over time too. It takes an open path of communication between patient and practitioner for the best possible results.

When to stop taking herbs

There is an estimated rule that says the number of years the condition has persisted equals the amount of months needed for treatment of that condition. Ex: If you’ve been dealing with GI issues for 6 years, it’s estimated you’ll need 6 months of treatment. Of course, this varies greatly from person to person and depending on the condition. Some conditions may have flare ups and remission periods, and these cases will have their own treatment protocols in terms of when to take herbs and when to stop. Other cases may have very clear start and finish times. 

But in general, when is the right time to stop taking your herbs:

  • When you feel better!
    • You’re sleeping through the night, your symptoms are gone, your energy is good and you're feeling great! Congratulations! This is huge!
  • When you and your practitioner have discussed you no longer need them, or another approach would be better for you
  • Or... Keep ‘em coming!
    • Herbs are like food, you can integrate them into your lifestyle through cooking food, daily tea rituals, immune support etc. They can be a part of everyday life in a less therapeutic dose!

Ready to work with a herbalist one on one?  Read through our bios and see if one of us might be a fight for you.  You can always schedule a 15 minute discovery meeting to ensure this is the right next step for you.

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