Herbalism, also known as Herbal Medicine and Phytotherapy, is a folk and traditional medicinal practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts, and is the oldest system of medicine in the world. More than merely the use of “plants as crude drugs”, one of the central tenets traditional herbal practices is that the whole plant often contains synergistic compounds resulting in greater effectiveness and fewer undesirable “side effects” than any single chemical isolate or synthetic analogue.
Herbalists are individuals skilled in the Art, Craft, and Science of Herbalism; the traditional use of plants and their healing properties. Many herbalists, more than simply studied in the use of medicinal plants, operate within a particular cultural and philosophical framework that recognizes the spiritual and energetic aspects of the body and the role they play in health. Herbs, and other naturally derived products, will form the core of any herbalist's program but depending on the herbalist's philosophical tradition and training, they may also recommend dietary changes and eating guidelines, supplements, flower essences, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, massage, exercise, or other holistic modality much as many Naturopaths.