About Phytotherapy

What exactly is Phytotherapy,  you may be asking? And, why do I need it?  Well firstly, don’t get confused by the name, phytotherapy is just another word for medical herbalism. The word ‘phytotherapy’ is derived from the greek “phyt (ón)” meaning plant and therapy from the Greek “therapeia” meaning “healing” or “curing”.

Phytotherapy starts to bridge the gaps between ancient, traditional herbal practices and modern medical science. It’s used in  many developed countries and is often referred to as western herbalism, but it has it’s roots as far back as the neanderthal period! With over 50% (and growing) of pharmaceutical drugs being directly derived from plants, science is catching up to the fact that herbs have value in more than just pretty visuals in our gardens or old wive’s tales.

Phytotherapists are trained to diagnose and treat a broad range of diseases and includes disease prevention along with dispensing of herbal medicines. In South Africa, Phytotherapy is a registered profession. To qualify as a Phytotherapist requires five year’s study at the University of the Western Cape. So far this is the only university in South Africa which offers a recognised course in Phytotherapy. Once qualified, the person can register with the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa and treat patients.

Almost any condition can be treated with herbal medicine. In some cases herbal medicine alone might not be sufficient and can form part of a multi-disciplinary treatment for serious, life-threatening illnesses, providing organ support and nurturing and helping to improve quality of life. Herbal medicine can treat acute and chronic conditions and can be effective for almost all disease states, from the common cold to rheumatoid arthritis.

Going to see a phytotherapist is very similar to going to see a GP, but can be quite a bit more in-depth. Your first consultation will take approximately 1-1.5 hours. During that time a complete, detailed history is taken and a medical examination conducted. from there the practitioner will try to establish a cause of the problem (if necessary, through blood tests, scans etc). After which diet and lifestyle advice will be given and herbal medication will be formulated and dispensed.

Phytotherapy believes heavily on individualised care, so you know that each visit will be unique and completely individualised just for you!

If you would like to have a consultation, do not hesitate to contact me or visit the South African Association of Herbal Practitioners website to find your nearest registered practitioner.


2 thoughts on “About Phytotherapy”

    1. Hey Tiah, thanks for your question – it’s such a good one & one that I probably won’t be able to answer in a simple comment. Practicing as a phytotherapist in SA is exactly like choosing to go into private practice in any field. You need to have an entrepreneur mindset and that alone comes with a whole host of pro’s and con’s from financial to emotional. How successful you’ll become as a phytotherapist cannot be dependent on anybody other than yourself. i.e. you can’t go into this field thinking that you’ll be working for somebody and that your income and job security will be guaranteed (just like any other medical field when you go into private practice). I’m always available for a chat if you’re looking to get into the field and I’ll share what I have.


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