All of our medical practices started with herbs and many of our modern medicines are based on chemicals, which are derived from herbs. With herbal medicine the emphasis is placed on the actions of the whole plant and not just one chemical to enable the body to heal itself. The reason for this is that these plants contain thousands of different chemicals with different actions.
Why do we need these different actions and all these other chemicals? These other actions work to enable the chemical to work safely within the body.
If you look at Willow for example, the pain-killing part of willow works in the same way that aspirin does. It stops exactly the same pathway but why is it that with aspirin you have a risk of gastric ulceration that is not seen with willow? That is because the other chemicals contained within willow help to prevent these side effects from ever happening. Willow, if taken for arthritic pain, will help with your pain and also work as an anti-inflammatory to help reduce chronic inflammation that in time will damage cartilage leading to worsened osteoarthritis. This dual effect and the prevention of side effects is only seen when the whole herb is used.
For each of my patients I design a individual tonic combining several herbal tinctures together. By using herbs together in this manner smaller doses are needed as the herbs in synergy.
I have recently achieved my Certificate of Western Veterinary Herbal Medicine and am continuing to study for my Post Graduate Diploma in Western Veterinary Herbal Medicine with the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies (www.civtedu.org).