Why Herbalist's Listen to and Touch Their Patients
To assess the imbalance in the body/mind causing the disease the herbalist looks for specific outward signs to understand the inner condition of the body.
Lately, I have been supporting those struggling with Lyme's disease. These individuals show up in the clinic very ill with assorted symptoms of pain, weakness, poor digestion, blurry vision, heart palpations, confusion, slightly jaundice, just to name a few. They also present with many signs of illness. (Just to be clear, a symptom is something reported while a sign is something the herbalist experiences through her senses.) The signs I see in these individuals include a dull complexion, weak voice, disorder thinking, stiffness, low affect, lack of expression in their eyes, cold skin to touch, deep pulse, pale tongue, etc.
Doctors, because Lyme's is caused by a bacterial infection that is difficult to pick up in a lab test, refuse to treat these individuals. Instead, uncertain about how to help these individuals, they throw a battery of test at them trying to understanding what is causing the illness.
These doctors have forgotten to trust proven clinical skills that have helped all healers, no matter their designation, for centuries. Our current orthodox medical system is disregarding proven clinical skills in exchange for lab tests. This short-sightedness is causing extreme suffering. It is not only those suffering with hidden infections that suffer from a lack of results from lab tests or imaging.
There are a number of reasons for health practitioners to maintain and continue to refine clinical skills in order to assess the health and imbalance in the patient's body/mind.
Clinical skills lead to a greater understanding of the health of the individual. Lab tests limit the patient to a particular image, hormonal panel, bacteria, etc Tests lack the bigger picture.
Clinical skills involve touching, speaking to and listening to the patient. Therapeutic relationships are established while practising clinical skills. This relationship is part of healing.
Lab tests and machines often show the results of the illness but not the underlying cause of the illness. This leads to treatment of symptoms and often suppressing the body's innate healing abilities.
Not all lab tests are correct.
Not all disease can be discovered with a machine or lab test.
Clinical skills are more economical that lab tests.
What happens if suddenly we no longer have access to lab tests and machines?
Your senses and touching your patient does not require nuclear energy and does not leave a slew of toxic waste.
As a herbalist, I have chosen not to use lab test in my practice. I continually refine my understanding and use of clinical skills in assessing the health and imbalances of the people who I support with plant medicine. Experience has taught me hands on clinical skills offer efficient and compassion methods of assessing a patient's health and determining the plant medicine to offer.
To understand how to use clinical skills as a herbalist we need to dig deeply into traditional practices.
The following month I will publish series of articles that explore the when, how and underlying theory behind traditional clinical skills to help understand a patient's health. It is my hope that these articles will spur you on to learn and practice the traditional clinical skills.