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 Herbal Medicine: Herbal Remedies and Stress Management 
Herbs can play a fundamental role in any stress management program. When used within the context of a program that addresses a range of factors, herbs can facilitate a dramatic change in the quality of life experienced by anyone under stress. In the first chapter of this course we discussed `Therapeutic Ecology' as a model to describe the relationship between herbal medicine and other healing modalities. Please read that section again to expand upon the brief recap below.

Holistic medicine reminds us to focus on an individuals unique situation and not simply treat a diagnosed disease syndrome. In the context of this therapeutic ecology, it may be that one person diagnosed with a stress related problem might recuperate best when treated with dietary advice, herbs and massage whilst for another it could be tranquilizers and psychoanalysis. Practitioners will often have their firmly held opinions of the pros and cons concerning one approach or another, but the patient is always more important than their doctors belief system.

A well balanced stress management program will address the various aspects discussed in that model. Herbal remedies will only fulfill some aspects, but they are vital.

  • Medicine; used here to mean anything which is taken for healing purposes, including Medical Herbalism, Homeopathy, Naturopathy and drug based Allopathic Medicine. All have in common use of some `form' level medicine that is taken into the body to achieve the therapeutic goal. Herbs act primarily on this level, as metabolic agents.
  • Body work; including all approaches that do something with or to the physical body. Structural factors are focused on as either causation or contribution to illness. This includes the manipulative therapies such as Osteopathy, Chiropractic and the varieties of Massage, as well as Surgery. Personal life style will contribute exercise, dance or any expression of bodily vitality. Relaxation techniques are invaluable. Herbs will help in an indirect way, for example the anti-spasmodics used as muscle relaxants
  • Emotions & mind; emotions embracing a whole array of psychological techniques, so important for identifying and treating emotional and mental factors in both health and disease. All the branches of psychotherapy are relevant, but especially the more holistically orientated approaches of Humanistic and Transpersonal psychology. A conscious and free flowing emotional life is fundamental to achieving any inner harmony.
  • Spirituality; there are meditative and prayer based techniques where the person aligns their being with higher spirit, or those where a practitioner works with the energy body of a patient. Some openness to spirituality is vital, and it might take the form of the upliftment of a sunset, being touched by poetry or art, belief in a religion or simply a dogma free joy in being alive.
In the sections that follow, attention is focused on the herbal aspects of such a program, but please do not forget nutrition, relaxation and all the other factors that the competent practitioner must address. To this end different herbal parameters can be identified based upon the degree of stress in an individuals life. Always remember individual variability's in response, as outlined above.

The most convenient way of approach stress related problems is based on intensity of the persons problems combined with the duration of the situation. Thus, considered in sequence below, there is:

  • Daily mild stress
  • Long standing severe stress
  • Short term severe stress
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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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