More About Herbal Medicine at Herbactive Health Clinic
Alan Hopking MA MNIMH Medical Herbalist of Herbactive Health
How I practice herbal medicine
by Alan Hopking
I’d like to outline how I practice herbal medicine. If you have an illness and you would like to receive treatment with medicinal herbs, what should you expect? It is now the modern world and post covid. The world of clinical medicine has changed forever, both for general practitioners in the NHS as well as for herbal practitioners in our private clinics. No longer is it essential to attend a clinic and be face to face with your physician. It is now completely acceptable to have a video consultation, a telephone consultation, even an email consultation. For me, as a private (non-NHS) practitioner, consultations have a fee (like any private clinic). Emails however are free, but donations for my time and advice are appreciated. Face to face consultations are available again now that lockdown and all restrictions have been lifted by the UK government.
I work as a functional medicine herbal practitioner. This implies many things which I will outline in brief. When you consult me, I am interested in your unique personal story, your history, how you have come to be who you are today. That is to say, I am interested in you as a patient as a whole, not solely in the disease that you present. I see health as a positive vital force, a natural and normal state of being, a right. In other words, your health is not merely the absence of disease. Your health as positively based on systemic function – an internal interrelationship that is indivisible i.e. the liver has its action and physiological function, but this function is both dependent on what comes to it, e.g. blood, as much as to do with the organs it acts towards, e.g. the gall bladder, the pancreas, the digestive organs, etc. Health is right function of all the organs and systems together. And it is the therapist’s job to help the body restore this balance and vitality. This is functional medicine. And this is where medicinal herbs have such a powerful part to play. But it is more than just handing out a prescription of herbs. It involves addressing the lifestyle of the patient as well.
Functional medicine is more focused on understanding the causes of a person’s health imbalance than with the symptoms that express this imbalance. So it aims to address these underlying causes of disease, utilising a systems-oriented approach. It focuses on the whole person rather than just on an isolated set of symptoms. As it is focused on a patient-centred individualisation of medicine, it prescribes remedies to restore the body’s physiology (the dynamic interactions that maintain life) to normal functioning. So diseases are regarded as disordered processes of normal physiology and plants are sustainable triggers that support the restoration of the affected tissues.
Lifestyle medicine provides an interdisciplinary, whole-system approach to the prevention and reversal of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases through the modification of the behavioural, social, and environmental drivers.
My herbal practice incorporates the defining characteristics of functional medicine and applies these through the lens of the unique properties of medicinal plants. Medicinal plants in my practice have gone through a rigorous number tests, analyses, historical use, and scientific assessment. their range of actions and uses are known, and recent pharmacological tests are always being added to our understanding of the plants medicinal action. as are new herbs and medicinal mushrooms. All these advances are now at the practitioner’s fingertips for use to benefit our patient. But we also investigate the patient’s diet as a positive aspect of therapy, especially with the use of phytonutrient-rich plant foods. Again, a chronic disease results from multiple causative factors (pieces in the patient’s historical mosaic). The patient’s story is paramount. A personal prescription is formulated along with other supportive remedies if required, e.g. the ABC Powder, slippery elm powder, a sleep tonic, a liver restorative tea, etc.
Yes, I have formulated an unique range of multiherbal tonics for anyone in the population to consider, select and order from this website. I still hold my long-held belief that my practice should be accessible to all and not just the few, i.e. a people’s herbalist. This completely supports my functional medicinal approach because the herbs in each prescriptive tonic are such that, first, they are not isolated constituents like a drug or factory-manufactured vitamin or health supplement, and second, the herbs have multifaceted actions over the range of organs, which means that each tonic takes into account the whole body whilst focusing on the task in hand, be it inflammation, immune enhancement, gall stones, breast lumps, shortness of breath, constipation, enlarged prostate, etc. These “whole-body” medicines rightly called tonics and adaptogens also empower the general goal of physiological enhancement of the function of individual systems, organs, or even tissues and cells. Such enhancement usually also involves the correction of imbalances in other causative body organs.
So, formulating a prescription of medicinal herbs is indeed complex, taking the whole mosaic into consideration, they must also be regarded as “intelligent mixtures” of secondary plant metabolites shaped by evolutionary pressures and possess inherent synergy and polyvalence. Polyvalence can be defined in this context as the range of biological activities that a herb may exhibit that contribute to the overall clinical effect. It stems directly from the chemical complexity of medicinal plants.
Functional herbal medicine supports key endocrine responses. it eliminates persistent pathogens. Lowers danger signals, boosting cellular protection (cytoprotection), enhances mitochondrial function and biogenesis. The ABC Powder is so important in this respect during the treatment period of the patient – and indeed for long-term health. We require the patient to Improve their sleep quality and time asleep and restoring their healthy nervous system function (lowering stress, anxiety, worry, depression). The herbs will also boost microcirculatory, macrocirculatory and endothelial health, improving blood quality, thus promoting the healing of tissues (and the person’s energy and outlook). We need to eliminate dysbiosis and promote a healthy microbiome both by diet/exercise and herbs, to optimise digestive function. And since 80% of the immune system originates in the gut, this will optimise and strengthen the defenses in the whole immune function. The mind, brain, emotions and interaction with nature are so important in this mosaic of who we are. So meditation and mindfulness which have been shown convincingly to be of benefit to all peoples on this wonderful journey on earth, are recommended because they give a deeper perspective of who we are, where we are, and our connection with the cosmic universe, gravity, and distant galaxies beyond our sun and moon.
I offer free support and advice throughout my treatment (usually by text or email due to time). Further telephone support and continued progressive treatment demands booking an online consultation or a further visit to my clinic.
I am passionate about health and herbal medicine and functional wellness, and will do all I can to help you regain your vitality and natural right to health.
Other reasons to look through the Herbactive site
Find out about the herbs you could use by making a search in the herbal materia medica section, or go to the illnesses A-Z section, or, to make it easy for you, simply email me for information. I normally reply the same day.
Do you want to improve your health? find out here
If you are interested in some of the wider aspects of herbalism, or wish to find out about wheatgrass or synergistic herbs, parasite treatment, clearing gall stones, treating a leg ulcer, click here for a full overview – A to Z.
Perhaps you have a searching, enquiring mind, you want to know what drugs come from what herbs, or a short but detailed history of herbalism, or forerunners of modern herbal medicine, or you have a real desire to find out about the deeper aspects and inner purpose of herbalism, then you will not leave without being totally satisfied, or at least with a lot to think about!
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If you want to know about the herbs of medical herbalism
Go to our full listing of medicinal herbs and their medicinal action and uses, their temperature and meridian influence. Short and to the point. Materia medica
How are our herbal medicines made and how do they work?
Our herbal medicines are made at our dedicated clinic/dispensary. Our herbal medicines are tinctures at different strengths according to the directions of the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia; the strengths of our tinctures range from 1:1, 1:3, 1:5, 1:10; most of our tinctures are 1:5. The tinctures are made from certified organic grain alcohol. Alcohol extracts are made with a range of strengths, from 25% to 90% depending on whether we are extracting flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves, barks, roots, gums, oils, or combinations of these. I also make fresh herb tinctures. This is the collection of fresh herbs e.g. hawthorn flowers or berries, or yarrow herb, or elder flower, etc., I then add less water to the weight of the herb and the right amount of alcohol to extract the fresh plant material. Every year from summer to autumn I make a lot of fresh tinctures for the benefit of my patients.
Alcohol is formed from the starch of organic grain which undergoes fermentation. Alcohol=ethyl alcohol=ethanol are synonymous terms. During fermentation, starch in the grain is converted into glucose and then yeast toproduce alcohol. Alcohol for tincture making is an extractant of the active constituents of the herb; it is also a preservative of the extract lasting 5 years or more (I have bottles of herbal tinctures made in the 1930s that are still active and smell fresh as though made yesterday!); alcohol is quickly absorbed from the stomach and intestine (by-passing digestion) into the bloodstream where the constituents are carried to the organs and cells to activate their function (called trophorestoration).
What happens to the alcohol in the body?
Alcohol is broken down by the liver by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. Acetaldehyde forms from the breakdown of alcohol. Alcohol is also broken down in the blood at 15mg per 100ml per hour by men (10mg by women). So from a dose of 5ml (5000mg) of herbal medicine where the alcohol content is 25% (1.25ml) the breakdown is quick and will not be noticed at all by the patient.
The glycerites are alcohol-free extracts made from certified organic vegetable glycerine. Both tinctures and glycerites are cold extracts and allowed to soak (but shaken daily) for a minimum of a month before being pressed out to maximize the extracting quality and strength. We use organic herbs wherever possible. We also use wildcrafted herbs (medicinal herbs collected from the clean, clear countryside).
Our prices are realistic and lower than all who have equivalent extracts. See our prices
If you are visiting the Godshaer/HERBACTIVE site
because you landed up here somehow or you heard about it and had to have a look for yourself, go into the various areas and I guarantee you’ll find something that you’ll like, the EHA tonic,, or the history of herbalism or the information about Hawthon or Horny Goat Weed, or the fascinating story about the Godshaer herb, after which the Clinic and Shop was named.
What’s in a name? what’s special about Godshaer Fern? – we named our first clinic after this herb
Find out about the special folk mythology about the Godshaer Fern and its amazing medicinal qualities, while the stream in the forest flows by….
Find out about the history of Godshaer renamed Herbactive in 2012.
HERBACTIVE’s Unique Spirit!
Alan Hopking Celebrates over 35 Years as a Herbal Practitioner!
Alan Hopking is the herbal medicine consultant for UK’s leading monthly health
magazine LIVE IT! Naturally.
He writes a monthly article about herbs and herbalism
and answers questions in his column.
See his article on Stevia in UK’s most informative monthly medical health magazine
LIVE IT! Naturally
(find in WHSmith, Borders, Tesco, etc)
Alan also writes articles for ICON Magazine the celebrated monthly for alternative treatments of cancer.
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Celebrate your health with our herbalist by getting yourself healthier – find out what herbal medicines you need to improve your health and happiness
Finally (or firstly). We must also act for the health of our planet. We need to cut our own carbon emissions; turn down the heating in your home and place of work, use energy efficent light bulbs, drive less (lift your foot off the gas) – walk or bicycle more, recycle, go organic. Rent the movie An Inconvenient Truth and watch it together with your friends and family. Also cut your use of non-recyclable plastic.