What Exactly Is Herbalism?

Herbalism is a mysterious area of natural medicine. You wouldn’t be blamed if it immediately brings to mind a vision of gnarled old women foraging for spiky little plants for yucky brown potions.


While the brown potions are definitely a ‘thing’, Herbalism today is far from that primitive image. The industry is booming, with many patients turning to natural options for medical issues. Many young and passionate health practitioners are picking up Herbalism Qualifications (known as Medical Herbalist) to compliment other medical training. Public health figures such as Dr Libby have added Herbalists to their teams. And many Nutrition-focused bloggers are turning to Herbalism to further their understanding of how medicinal plant potions can help improve health and wellness.


Products such as the Sleep Drops, Weleda’s medicinal range, Kiwiherb, Phytomed and Medi-Herbs liquid tinctures and tablets, are few of a vast number of companies that have incorporated Herbalism techniques to create natural, effective and accessible treatments – natural alternatives to conventional drug treatments.


Bodywise provides Herbalism expertise and products, and we take great pride and joy when seeing people’s well-being improve as a result of Herbalism. We talk to Bodywise’s resident Herbalist (and Naturopath) Bridget, about her path into Herbalism, exactly what it is, and how to find a qualified practitioner.

What’s your name and qualifications? Where did you study Herbalism?

My name’s Bridget McCormick. I have a Bachelor of Natural Medicine at South Pacific College of Natural Medicine in Auckland (otherwise known as a Naturopath and Medical Herbalist).

What drew you to study Herbalism?

I grew up with a fascination of plants and what they could do. I came from a health-conscious family where my mother gave us good nutrition and good supplements when we needed them. So I gained my interest and curiosity in natural medicine from my upbringing.

What exactly is Herbalism?

Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism or phytotherapy, is a medical system based on the use of plants or plant extracts that may be ingested or used topically.
To gain a qualification in herbal medicine practitioners undergo extensive training in the philosophies, principles and practice of herbal medicine. They also study the fundamentals of medical science, including anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology (the underlying cause of diseases), differential diagnosis, pharmacokinetics (what our bodies do with the plants we consume) and pharmacodynamics (what the plants do to our bodies).
Herbalism and Naturopathy are a holistic health modality. What this means is that your practitioner is trained to look at you as a whole picture. So often they will provide additional lifestyle and dietary advice, to guide you on the path to better health and wellness.

Where did Herbalism originally come from?

Herbalism has been used by many different cultures throughout the world to treat illness and to assist bodily function. it is one of the most ancient forms of medicine and predates written history by thousands of years.

Why is Herbalism an effective option for treatment of sickness and for everyday wellness?

Herbal medicines for internal use can be prescribed in many forms such as tablets, capsules, medicinal teas, or as a liquid tonic. By combining a variety of medicinal herbs in a liquid tincture, a prescription can be tailored to meet each persons individual needs. Herbs are safe to use for babies, children, pregnant woman, and all ages, those on regular medical treatments, and for an vast range of medical conditions.

What are the most amazing results you have seen in a patient of Herbalism?

I have seen many different types of successful results. I once treated a very young baby with bad eczema, and after just one simple tincture the babies eczema disappeared. I also repeatedly see great results in clients struggling with severe stress and anxiety. Using herbal tinctures they begin to better manage their stress levels and their day to day well-being is greatly improved. It’s also great to see patients with everyday complaints such as digestives issues or hayfever being relieved of their discomfort thanks to Herbalism.

What are the most common uses for Herbalism?

Insomnia, weight loss, stress?

For men and women, herbs are amazing for supporting the immune system during coughs, colds and flues, and chronic illnesses from viruses. It can also be really helpful for hormonal imbalances (especially in women). Stress and anxiety, adrenal fatigue, and skin problems like acne, digestive and muscular complaints that can also be helped effectively by herbalism.

What’s the process when I speak to a Herbalist?

The Herbalist will ask you about your particular issue, and also other areas of your health and lifestyle. This enables them to get a holistic (whole) idea of your body’s current state and possible stresses, so they can create a herbal tincture that suits your particular needs. This holistic approach is what underlies most natural medicine techniques.

What do you wish more people knew about Herbalism?

That Herbalism is safe and effective for many different health concerns. There are very few (if any) side effects of herbal medicine. It’s tailored to meet your individual needs, and its safe for babies, children, pregnant woman, and people of all ages when precribed by a medical herbalist.

What are the signals of a great Herbalist? How can I find one to help me?

Naturopath and Medical Herbalist will work independently or in a health store. You can find one through a doctor referral or on Google. To know if your practitioner is qualified, just ask what their qualifications are, ask around and see who is well respected.

To speak to Bridget about how Herbalism can help you, please call us 03 546 8611, contact us here or pop into our Nelson NZ store.

Bodywise xx