In the age of modern medicine, when everything can be fixed with a pill, from a simple headache to more complicated health needs, we often neglect to consider more traditional methods. Herbal medicine certainly pre-dates contemporary medication, but this should not negate its importance. Perhaps there are simpler, more natural methods?
My infant daughter is currently suffering from teething. Growing new teeth is painful and often causes bouts of unstoppable crying. But, what to do? The old wives tale of rubbing her gums with whisky is frowned upon and administering medication like paracetamol doesn’t sit comfortably with me. Perhaps, it’s time to try a herbal remedy?
What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine, most simply defined, is the use of plants for medicinal purpose. It is a tradition that pre-dates written history. Some of the earliest documents indicate that Ancient Chinese and Egyptian civilizations in 3000BC used herbal medicine.
It continues to be a prevalent treatment method and the WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates that roughly 80% of people across the globe use herbal medicine. Recent advancements in quality control and research supporting its use have caused herbal medicine to become more mainstream.
Napier’s The Herbalists
The Edinburgh Wellbeing Festival was blessed to be graced with one of the oldest herbalist companies in Edinburgh. Napier’s was originally founded by Duncan Napier, a prominent Victorian herbalist and botanist, in 1860.
Duncan Napier undoubtedly had a rough childhood. After being abandoned at birth by his mother, he was taken in by a local innkeeper who regularly abused him. At the age of 9, he apprenticed with a local baker and developed a cough as a result of the dust.
Unable to shake off his cough, Duncan began to study and explore herbal remedies. His studies were promoted by mentor John Hope and his association with the Edinburgh Botanical Society. Lobelia Cough Syrup was the remedy that ultimately rid Duncan of his cough and the results of this cough syrup was so successful that Duncan established Napier’s to provide similar remedies to the Edinburgh public.
Napier’s opened on 25th of May 1860 at Bristo Place, where it remains an Edinburgh institution to this day.
Common Uses of Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicine can be used to treat almost every ailment and some of the most common ingredients can be found in most homes. For example, garlic can help reverse diabetes, fight inflammation, boost your immune system, regulate blood pressure, and even fight cardiovascular disease. Other common ingredients include ginger, turmeric, ginseng, milk thistle, St. John’s wort, feverfew, ginkgo Bilbao, saw palmetto, and aloe vera.
In fact, most of us have probably used herbal remedies without realising it. Have you ever applied aloe vera to a sunburn? Or brewed a lemon, ginger, honey tea to fight a cold?
Herbal remedies can be used for skin problems, diabetes, digestion, headaches & migraines, thyroid health, and sleep problems.
Herbal remedies are used for many reasons. Many people find herbal remedies more attractive than modern medicine as they are easier to access (you only need to visit a store instead of seeing a GP for a prescription or waiting to see a specialist), are more affordable, and of course have healing properties.
As the NHS is quick to highlight, herbal medicines still contain active ingredients so just because they are ‘natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re safe to take.
Herbal medicines must be taken with care and a herbalist should be consulted prior to consumption. It’s also important to include herbal medicines when asked by a health professional as they can conflict with modern medicine or cause complications in surgery.
As they contain active ingredients, some people may experience negative reactions or side-effects.
Similar to modern medicine, it is not safe to purchase herbal medicine from the Internet or an unlicensed provider (look for THR on packages).
Trust in Napier’s Expertise
In my opinion, Napier’s is one of the best, and safest places, in Edinburgh to go for herbalist advice. After 152 years, Napier’s has become one of the UK’s leading names in complementary and natural health care. Their website provides lots of useful information on a range of health issues and their in-store herbalists can help with specific, individually-tailored advice.
Check them out online or visit them in-store at 18 Bristo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 1EZ.