Herbal medicine is becoming the number one choice for healthcare for many consumers, as more and more people are becoming dissatisfied with pharmaceutical medicine and the harmful side effects associated with many of their prescriptions. There is a growing number of herbalists practicing in Ireland. Herbal medicine courses can be found in Dublin and Portlaoise. I studied herbal medicine at the irish School of Herbal medicine in Portlaoise. They have a strong focus on the principles of natural healing and the principle of vitalism. The also run courses in living foods and reflexology. Chinese medicine is also popular in Ireland, but I would recommend you to choose a herbalist who can use local Irish herbs where possible. Some of my favourite herbs include nettle and hawthorn berry.

While herbal medicine is a growing choice for health consumers, many still prefer to go to their GP. If you choose to go to your general practitioner (GP), more than likely he or she will prescribe you some form of medicine to treat your symptoms. Today there is very little else GP’s will offer you. Their business model is based on seeing as many patients as possible in as short a time as possible. At €50 a pop, they can turn over between 4 to 6 patients per hour, depending on whether you get 10 minutes or 15 minutes. Thats between €200 to €300 per hour! Let me see if they see patients for 5 hours of the 8 hour working day, allowing them time for administration and other duties, thats a daily earning of between €1000 to €1,500 per day X 5 days per week = between €5,000 to €7,500 per week or between €260,000 to €390,000 per year. Obviously this is their business income and they have overheads and insurance to pay for out of their gross earnings. However according to Sara Burke Health Journalist on Drivetime on RTE, Irish GP’s on average earn 3 times the average industrial wage. According to the CSO in Ireland, the average industrial wage in 2014 is €35,828 per year. Sara Burke was making a comparison between the Irish and the French Health systems, where in France consumers pay €22 to visit their GP and earn twice the average industrial wage.

Ok, so you get your prescription and off you pop to the local chemist or pharmacy you will go to pay for your medicine, which always comes in nicely packaged boxes, with attractive colours. Did you known that pharmaceutical companies use the science of marketing to choose the right color for the tablet and for the packaging, thus appealing to our unconscious needs for safety and security. In many cases the medicine will do what it says on the tin, take away your pain, ease your symptoms, reduce your risk in the immediate term and give you peace of mind.

Peace of mind is part of the healing process. Have you heard about the placebo effect? Its the positive health benefit gained from the very fact you have decided to do something about your condition, i.e., by going to your GP or Herbalist. Some times referred to as the “White Coat Syndrome”. Both the placebo effect and the white coat syndrome, demonstrate the powerful role, that the mind plays in the healing process.

Next time your symptoms arise, consider going to a herbalist instead and receive an hour’s treatment, with personalised attention for €65 and leave with a herbal prescription, and a individualised nutritional and lifestyle plan, to help get to the root of those symptoms.