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What is Herbal Medicine?

By Bettina Schmoll
from Torrens University

Herbal Medicine uses roots, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds of plants to improve health, prevent disease and treat illness. Herbal Medicine is suitable for any age group, and can help both acute and chronic conditions.

Did you know…

Western Herbal Medicine dates as far back as the stone age Much of its use in the middle ages was community based, and herbs were tied to diet and religion. While most healers were monks, one of the most influential was a nun named Hildegard von Bingen, who was also the first to be published. As time went on, the medical profession adopted the use of plant medicine, and some medications we use today are derived from plants.

Aspirin is derived from Salix alba, the willow tree.

How do naturopaths and herbalists use Herbal Medicine today?

Firstly, your practitioner will take a full case history which includes:

  • Family history
  • Medical history
  • Diet
  • Social influences such as alcohol and smoking

If necessary, your practitioner may request a physical examination to assist with their understanding. This may include:

  • Taking your blood pressure
  • Listening to your chest lungs or torso with a stethoscope
  • Looking more closely at your skin, tongue, mouth, eyes, hands or nails
  • Gently pressing on and around your abdomen
  • Asking you to move your limbs

Western Herbal Medicine graduates from Torrens University are trained to work collaboratively with medical and allied health practitioners to ensure clients receive timely diagnosis and optimal health care.

These days, naturopaths and herbalists use herbs as medicine in numerous ways to establish the best possible treatment approach for you. Whether it is to boost immunity; address allergies, digestive concerns, or joint and musculoskeletal issues; or support hormonal health, cognition and focus, emotional wellbeing, energy and stamina.

This means your treatment may be in the form of:

  • Specially formulated liquid herbal extracts
  • Herbal teas
  • Herbal extract tablets or capsules
  • Food, such as juices
  • Baths or washes
  • Creams or ointments
  • Steam inhalations
  • Gargles and mouthwashes
  • Pessaries and suppositories

Common foods can also be used has a type of herbal medicine.

Did you know broccoli is great for supporting liver function and helping your body’s natural  detoxification processes?

Do you suffer from cold hands and feet? What about joint aches and pains? The active ingredient in chilli could provide some relief.

Want to know more?

Contact the Practice Wellbeing Centres in either Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne for a face to face or Telehealth appointment.

Want to study herbal medicine?  Torrens University offers the only Western Herbal Medicine degree in Australia.

More about the author

Bettina Schmoll
– Torrens University

Bettina Schmoll - Senior Lecturer Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine at Torrens University

Coming from a background in nursing not only in Australia, but also Germany, has been extremely advantageous. In 1998, Bettina completed an Advanced Diploma in Applied Science with the inclusion of an Aromatherapy Certificate taught by the founder of the Perfect Potion stores, Salvatore Battaglia. This has led to a special interest in manufacturing treatment tailored specifically for the patient, especially in skin disorders.

With a passion for herbs, even in the garden, in 2002, she went on to teach Herbal Medicine as well as Herbal Manufacturing at the Endeavour College of Natural Health. After completing a Masters in Health Science at UNE in 2007, she has continued teaching and clinical practice with a stint in Malaysia (think Lemon myrtle).

In January 2020, she was appointed Senior Lecturer for Western Herbal Medicine at Torrens University with a focus upon Academic Support in the Clinical space as well as co-ordinating Botany and Manufacturing and Advanced Herbal Medicine subjects. She has run private workshops in Manufacturing for organisations such as Scape, Plastic Free July and the Queensland Herb Society.

Bettina has a keen interest in diagnostics, especially holistic techniques which can enable a more efficient treatment approach, especially for natural medicine students having difficulty with clarity of how to go forward in a case.

In 2019, she spoke on the topic of Tongue Diagnosis at the NHAA International Conference and continues to improve her own and those of her student’s diagnostic skills.