FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What is clinical herbalism?

Herbalism is the science and art of using herbs in support of health and wellbeing. It is a practice of healing that stretches the vastness of both space and time. The term 'clinical' seeks to bring herbalism into a modern context by blending up-to-date knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and phytochemistry with centuries old traditional knowledge. In this regard, clinical herbalism is the meeting place of two worlds; Western medical science and traditional healing.

Clinical herbalism recognizes and admires much of the advanced knowledge of modern medicine. However, it is a system, or worldview, that embraces the larger patterns of imbalance that can be present in the human body, rather than specifically focusing on molecular anomalies and manifestations of disease. Clinical herbalism is not the practice of medicine, nor does it assume the role of diagnosing, treating, curing, or preventing disease.     

Clinical herbalism is a system of healing that recognizes the human body as an ecological phenomenon, brilliantly intelligent, and intuitively capable of self-repair. In the practice of clinical herbalism, specific herbs or blends of herbs are aligned to support this innate self-healing intelligence, offering the human body, emotions, and even spirit, direction and guidance towards resolution. In addition to herbs, clinical herbalism also respects the positive and negative impacts that nutrition and lifestyle choices can have on our bodies, on how we feel in this world, and our connections to self-care.  

What are the benefits of seeing a clinical herbalist?

In simple terms, one of the benefits of seeing a clinical herbalist is guidance and education. Working with someone who has been trained in medical sciences and herbalism can be incredibly enlightening and empowering. It can also ensure that you are making the safest and most educated decisions possible about your health and wellbeing. Clinical herbalists, like Erika Galentin, have extensive knowledge and experience working with herbs in a clinical setting; they know the herbs well and the best form to take them in. They are able to interpret scientific research and assess potential for herb-drug interactions. They are also able to provide an objective perspective on the 'bigger picture' that you may not be able to cultivate on your own.

In addition to specializing in the clinical application of herbs, clinical herbalists appreciate their clients as individuals with sometimes very complex stories to tell. There is a built-in understanding that our life experiences can shape and craft our physical wellbeing. You will have the opportunity to share your concerns, your joys, your sadness, your stress, in a safe and supportive environment. Many people believe that part of healing comes with sharing your story and being heard. Clinical herbalists are able to provide this safe space, when many other healthcare practitioners cannot.  

How is clinical herbalism different than buying herbs over-the-counter?

In the past 50 years in the United States, the natural products and dietary supplements market has exploded, exponentially. In addition, the age of the Internet is stuffed full with information, everyone an expert source on something, or trying to make a living tapping into the human desire to learn new things. In these modern times, shelves are stocked with evermore increasing numbers of complex herbal and nutritional products marketed at consumers with attention grabbing titles and 'fix-it-all' lists of ingredients. There is also an overflow of information available on the internet about using herbs, some of it good information, but much of it not. In this modern over-the-counter herbal supplement market, there is also a significant detachment from traditional preparations, or ways in which herbs have been consumed for thousands of years. Herbs are now engineered for 'maximum potency' under the guise of  'more is better', or 'more potent equals more effective'. When it comes to herbal preparations, this is a complete misunderstanding about the nature of herbs and how they work in the human body.

With all this in mind, it can be inherently overwhelming standing in front of a dietary or herbal supplements shelf at your local healthfood store or searching on the internet for the right herbs to take for your health concerns. Making choices about your health through over-the-counter decisions and without proper guidance and information about the herbs you want to try can often times end in disappointment, or worse, could make matters worse. Not to mention how expensive it can become when you are shooting in the dark...trying this and trying that without any movement forward.

In addition, as scientists continue to study herbs in the hunt for new drug targets, or seek to understand how herbs and drugs interact within the human body, there is an ever-growing body of scientific literature which is not readily available to the general public. Scientific research is also not necessarily easy to understand; the scientific study of herbs is fraught with a whole host of issues, many of which result in poorly understood, misrepresented, or misconstrued information which lacks clinical relevance.

How do herbs work? Or do they?

Most people expect herbs to work like drugs. You are sick, you swallow some magic herbal pill, and voilĂ ! All better. Unfortunately this is not how herbs work, nor is it how their efficacy should be assessed. It is of utmost importance to understand that herbs are not drugs, and they don't work like drugs. Pharmaceutical drugs aim for specific molecular targets, often times manipulating a specific outcome (and pharmaceuticals can be life-saving due to how specific they can be and how fast they can act!). One molecule, one target, one outcome...highly specific and controlled.

Herbs, on the other hand, are not single molecules. In fact, a single herb can contain hundreds of chemical compounds. Each of these compounds is represented in various amounts depending on where the herb was grown, when and how the herb was harvested and processed, the form that it is in (capsule, tincture, tea), and how long it has been sitting on the shelf. With hundreds of chemical compounds, there is not a specific molecular outcome, but perhaps hundreds of them. In addition, these chemical compounds are present in an herbal supplement in much lower quantities than one might find with a single-chemical pharmaceutical.

Due to these factors, herbs work in much less 'specific' ways than drugs. They are also much more subtle and often times much more gentle. They are also often times much slower to act and best used in conjunction with an understanding of the patterns of imbalance they can correct. For example, Erika Galentin relies deeply on a therapeutic model of Western herbalism known as the 'tissue state model'. Derived from the work of late 19th to early 20th century Physiomedical botanical physicians and refined by modern practitioners, the tissue state model recognizes three distinct couplets of imbalance; hot/cold, moist/dry, tense/relaxed. When these patterns are ascertained through consultation, herbs that have a corresponding correctional attribute are applied. For example, cooling herbs for hot, irritable states, or stimulating herbs when there is depression or lack of function. Because herbs are so broad spectrum, they are best at addressing these bigger-picture patterns.

In addition, herbs are not meant to act alone like most pharmaceuticals can. They are simply tools in your tool belt that are meant to work alongside YOU, the client, who will likely be making changes to your nutritional or dietary habits as well as your lifestyle. What this means is that herbs are only as effective as the client allows them to be. You can't expect to take herbs but continue bad habits and think somehow that the herbs will take care of everything on their own. Although this may be the case when taking pharmaceuticals, it is absolutely not the case with herbs.

Are herbs safe?

Under most circumstances, for most people, most herbs are safe. However, there are situations where certain herbs may not be appropriate under certain circumstances for certain people (for example, taking St. John's Wort if you are on a narrow therapeutic index drug like digoxin). Also, children and elders require special consideration when choosing herbs and dosing, as their systems can be much more sensitive than a robust adult. There are many factors that ought to be considered when looking into the safety of herbs, however, lack of safety is most evident with potential for herb-drug interactions. Erika Galentin MNIMH, RH (AHG) specializes in interpreting herb-drug interaction research, its clinical relevance, and incorporating new information into the modern practice of clinical herbalism.

How long does it take for herbs to be effective? Will I have to take them forever?

This really depends on the individual and their circumstances, how proactive they are about making changes to diet and lifestyle, and their overall health and wellness goals. It will also depend on your medical history, concurrent pharmaceutical use, needs for surgery, or whether or not you are seeing other practitioners, such as an acupuncturist or massage therapist. In a nutshell, there is no set period of time that can be calculated without a consultation. And even then, sometimes things can take longer or shorter than expected. But before you worry too much about being on herbs for life, know that Erika Galentin's goal is to see you on a path to self-sufficiency, not dependency.

It is important to remember that every individual person is different, even if their health concerns are the same. What worked best for someone else under similar circumstances may not work best for you. For this reason, it can be very difficult to gauge how long it will take until you start seeing improvements in your health and wellbeing. A lot of that will be up to the amount of work you put in, even though immediate results are often experienced as well. Healing to wellness is a dynamic path, not a linear or static one. You and Erika will work alongside each other for as long as you feel is appropriate.

How do I schedule an appointment?

You can schedule an appointment by calling 740-229-9952 or sending an email to: office@sovereigntyherbs.com We do not offer online scheduling at this time.

How do I prepare for my first appointment?

Upon booking your first appointment, you will be emailed a private link on our website to 'Clinical Documents' that need to be printed, filled out, and sent into our office at least 5 days prior to your first appointment. If you are unable to access the internet, we will send you a copy of these forms in the mail. Please also send in advance any pathology reports, scan reports, and pertinent blood work reports. Please ensure that all reports are in chronological order. It is also of utmost importance to include any and all pharmaceutical medications and dietary supplements on your client intake form.

Again, it is important that all forms and reports are mailed to our office prior to your first appointment so that consultation time is not used up by going through them and that Erika Galentin is prepared and able to focus on your story.

These forms, although extensive, are designed to provide Erika Galentin with as much information about your health history and wellness status prior to your first appointment so that your time together in consultation is as productive as possible. These forms also give you, the client, and opportunity to 'take stock' of your health and wellness goals. Knowing what you would like to achieve through seeing a clinical herbalist is the first step to reclaiming your own health sovereignty.

What happens during a consultation?

Your first appointment lasts approximately 90 minutes whereby you are given the opportunity to share your health and wellness concerns and any other information that is relevant to your story. Having sent in your clinical documents prior to your first appointment, Erika Galentin will have had the opportunity to look things over and formulate questions for clarification. By the end of your first appointment, Erika will discuss with you a wellness protocol which may include changes to your diet and/or lifestyle as well as incorporation of herbs (usually in the form of teas and extracts). She may also suggest other nutritional supplements. A personalized blend of herbs will be designed for you and dispensed from our clinic should you want to purchase herbs from us directly. These personalized blends are not available elsewhere as they are formulated specifically for you.

After this first appointment, Erika likes to have you back for a return appointment within 2-3 weeks to see how things are going, monitor any progress towards achieving your wellness goals, and make any necessary changes to your herbal protocol. After your second appointment, you will be encouraged to reschedule once a month until you feel you have reached your goals.   

Do you offer long distance consultations if I live far away or are unable to make it to your clinic?

The short answer is yes, we do. However, we prefer that your first initial consultation takes place in person. Please read 'Internet and Phone Consultations' or give us a call on 740-229-9952 for more information.

What if I am on pharmaceuticals? Should I talk to my doctor about using herbs?

Leading researchers in the field of herb-drug interactions believe that most herbs do not pose a risk of interacting with most drugs. However, this depends entirely on the herb, the drug, and the person taking them. We invite you to watch this free training session from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health which features Dr. Bill Gurley, a leading pharmacologist in the field of herb-drug interaction research. It is important to note that Erika Galentin MNIMH, RH (AHG) specializes in interpreting herb-drug interaction research and its clinical relevance and is dedicated to providing safe suggestions for integrating herbs into your daily life, even if you are concurrently taking pharmaceutical medications.

However, we request that you speak to your primary doctor, specialist, and all other members of your healthcare team prior to making any changes to your diet, lifestyle, or using herbs. A full list of herbs in your personalized blend will be provided to you so that you can freely share this information with your healthcare team.

Erika G Galentin of Sovereignty Herbs, LLC and their representatives are not qualified or able to advise you to discontinue or change doses of pharmaceutical medications. You are advised to consult with your prescribing physician concerning any desired or personally implemented modifications to pharmaceutical medications. In addition, you are advised to speak to your medical doctor and/or licensed medical practitioner prior to trying herbal and dietary supplements or making changes to your diet or lifestyle as they may impact your medical treatment. Erika G Galentin of Sovereignty Herbs, LLC and their representatives advise and request that you disclose any and all herbal or dietary supplements and lifestyle changes to your medical doctor and any healthcare professionals from which you seek care.

What if I have more questions?

If you have more questions you would like answered prior to scheduling your first consultation, please contact Erika Galentin by calling 740-229-9952 or sending an email to office@sovereigntyherbs.com. Although many questions can be answered via phone or email, it may be required that you book a 30 minute informational session in order to have all of your questions answered.