Is the person feeling too hot or too cold? Are they listless and lacking energy? The good news is there is a corresponding herb for every imbalance an individual is experiencing. This is because plants have energetics; they are warm or cool, moistening or drying, toning or stimulating in nature. So when a person is experiencing a fever, their energetics would be heat, and a cooling herb such as elderflowers would be helpful in most cases. Imagine adding some cayenne pepper to a feverish person, certainly not the right action! Consider a person who has burned their hand, running cool water would be a sensible choice as well as using a moistening cooling herb such as aloe vera.
Herbs are complex beings with many properties and their own unique personalities. Learning the plants in these ways takes a long time because it entails spending time with the herbs to become friends. In this way, the herbalist is a bridge between the plants and the person seeking help as they can ask their plant allies for assistance. This does not mean you cannot ask, but an herbalist may save you some time figuring out which plant ally is best for your condition.
People ask the difference between pharmaceuticals and herbs. Drugs do not look at the ecosystem; they balance the body's chemicals. Which is a quick fix and, in some cases, is the correct way to go. However, if one is looking to heal fully, they must consider finding and correcting the imbalance in their entire ecosystem.
Western herbalism is considered a European method of using herbs. Much information was lost during the Dark Ages when the natural healers, midwives and shamans were persecuted and killed. But there is a renaissance of these healing arts coming back into the forefront. I am grateful to the many herbalists who have taken the time to decipher the writings of the old-time healers thereby reclaiming the old wisdom of by-gone-days.