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 Herbal Medicine: Managing Stress: An Overview 
 
There is much that can be done to ease the impact of stress and lessen the weight of the anxiety and tension we so often carry around with us. However, the very range of approaches that we have to choose from can itself become a source of stress! Where should we turn for help? Which therapy should we use?These are always difficult questions, and they are even more difficult to answer when we are not feeling at our best.

The different therapies are only ways of helping us find the peace that is in us anyway. We are all in fact our own healers. The key is an inner attitude of taking responsibility for the quality of our own lives. We can seek aid from"experts, " be they medical doctors, herbalists, or alternative-therapy practitioners, but the responsibility for healing can never be truly handed toanother. Healing comes from within and is inherent to being alive. It is rarelyan act of consciously harnessing inner energy, but it is always an expressionof our inner power.

Healing can be facilitated by various tools and techniques. However, these techniques do not heal us; they can only aid in the healing process. Each ofthem embodies a profound truth and a great gift of healing wisdom, but humanity is very complex and our ills are a microcosm of that complexity. We need to build bridges between the therapies so that we can move toward a more holistic approach to health. In this chapter, I offer a simple model showing how we might integrate the various approaches to health and wholeness so that inner peace can become an active part of our lives.

When people are seen as whole beings, and not simply as `bodies with minds ontop of them', it comes as no surprise that there is a deep association between psychology and physiology. This association has profound implications for allillness, not just stress and anxiety.

It is a demonstration of the inadequacies of our scientific approach to health that people are even thought of in terms of the two words, mind and body. As wehave already discussed, there is, in reality, one system that should not be separated. However, since there is no one English term for this system, to talk about it in English, and say what needs to be said, is exceedingly difficult.

It is worth examining how orthodox medicine sees the relationship between mind and body in the development of illness. While no all-encompassing explanation for their association has been put forward, the medical world has considered anumber of possible explanations:

  1. Some physical illness may be psychological in origin; that is, the bodily disturbance is the result of and caused by the psychological illness.
  2. Physical illness may arise as an indirect consequence of a mental disorder, the bodily illness resulting from behavioral disturbances that are secondary to the psychiatric problem.
  3. Physical methods of treating mental illness may cause bodily disease. This is unfortunately all too common with the wide use of drug therapy today.
  4. The mental disturbance may be a manifestation of a physical illness, or an adverse effect of its treatment.
  5. A mental or emotional problem may be a "purely" psychological response to either the physical illness itself or to the significance that theillness has for the person involved.

This might all sound a bit semantic! These explanations are, however, a way of fitting the relationship of mind and body into a pattern that will enable an orthodox medical practitioner to decide which drugs to use. Should he or she focus on the physical problems or the mental disturbance?

From the perspective of a holistic herbalist, this is an artificial and unnecessary question. To help both body and mind, the whole must be treated as a whole. Thus, not only are remedies that are helpful for specific symptoms needed, but a management plan to help us cope with stress is also necessary.This broader view lessens the impact of stress, helps free us, and hopefully creates the space for healing to take place.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
 
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