Western herbal medicine

What is it?

Western herbal medicine remedies are usually made from herbs grown in Europe and North America, but some come from Asia.

Why use it?

Herbal preparations are often used to help with the side effects of conventional cancer treatments, such as lowering fatigue and improving wellbeing. Evidence shows they should be used in addition to conventional therapies, rather than as an alternative.

What to expect?

After taking a case history, the practitioner puts together a holistic picture of your health. They will look for underlying reasons for your ill health or the symptoms you have, and dispense a remedy addressing the causes and symptoms of your illness. They may give you a pre-made herbal formula or make up a blend of herbs specifically for your needs.

Herbal medicines can be prepared as liquid extracts that are taken with water or as a tea (infusion). They can also be prepared as creams or tablets.

What is the evidence?

There is a wide body of research into the effectiveness and safety of many herbs, and some studies show promising results. Speak to your doctor and herbal medicine practitioner about the potential side effects of any herbal preparations.

Many pharmacies and health food stores sell herbal preparations. Ask your complementary therapist or pharmacist if these are of high quality and meet Australian standards.

This information was last reviewed in May 2015
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