NIMH and Herbalist Training

 

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Founded 1908

 

ORIGIN AND PRACTICE OF HERBAL MEDICINE

Herbal medicine has its roots in antiquity. The Chinese had herbal pharmacopoeias as far back as 3,000 BC and records of plant remedies have been found in many ancient civilisations. The earliest extant Saxon manuscript was written in the tenth century AD and this was followed by many more. With the advent of the printing press in the fifteenth century came an increase in the number of herbals produced; the most notable of these were written by John Gerard (Herbalist to King James I) in 1597, and by John Parkinson in 1636 -this being the largest herbal to be written in English, containing descriptions of the medicinal uses of about 3,800 plants, many of which are still in use today.

 

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL HERBALISTS (NIMH)

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists, founded in 1864, is the oldest professional body of herbal practitioners. Training Herbalists today is an extensive, rigorous and scientific process taking several years. All new members have undergone a BSc course in Herbal Medicine including; anatomy physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, differential diagnosis, material medica, clinical diagnosis, dermatology. The courses include 500 hours of clinical training, at established training clinics overseen by trained medical herbalists. A final clinical exam is ultimately undertaken before acceptance to the Institute. When a successful candidate is admitted to the Institute, he or she is required to observe a strict Code of Ethics, and take the Affirmation of Herbal Practice based on the Hippocratic Oath.

 

THE DEPARTMENT OF RESEARCH

This Department is another very active part of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. Since 1965 much work has been put into the compilation of the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, which consists of monographs giving a scientific description and the therapeutic action of the more commonly used herbs. Much information for this has been gleaned from the experiences and observations of senior members of the Institute, and research conducted at various Universities has been compiled and published through the Scientific Committee of the British Herbal Medicine Association. Scientific research into the nature and constituents of plants has made phenomenal progress since the 18th century! Through the more sophisticated examination possible today in Universities throughout the world, more knowledge has become available as to the precise mode of action within herbs and their therapeutic effect in the human body.

 

THE COLLEGE OF PRACTITIONERS OF PHYTOTHERAPY (CPP)

The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy is a science based professional body for qualified herbal practitioners. It was established in 1993 and offers 3 seminars annually for continued professional development and publishes "The British Journal of Phytotherapy" quarterly, along with a news review. This organisation too recognises the huge recent advancement in scientific research.

 

Medicinal herbs will contain some of the following constituents; alkaloids, minerals, organic acids, mucilages, glycosides, saponins, tannins, volatile oils and bitter principles. Much of this modern knowledge has confirmed the age-old beliefs about the properties of various herbs based on empirical use, and many new and exciting discoveries are being made. Currently only a comparatively few herbal remedies have been researched fully. There are over three-quarter of a million species of plants awaiting investigation, and it may well be that the answers to many of our killer diseases are to be found in natural remedies.

 

 

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