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Beyond Hypericum: Perceptions of Treatments by Herbalists for Depression

Abstract
Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) includes a diverse range of traditional and natural treatments practiced beyond orthodox medical practices. CAM therapies are used globally by consumers and rates of use are increasing. Medical herbalists are a group of CAM therapists who are trained in the practice of holistic healing to restore homeostasis via a number of modalities including herbal medicines, diet and nutrition and various mind and body techniques. Six women who had consulted medical herbalists for symptoms of low mood/depression were interviewed. Questions focused on: why the participants chose to visit a herbalist; contextual factors surrounding the participants at the time; what their treatment programs entailed; their perceptions of symptom relief, efficacy and the therapeutic relationship; perceived barriers to accessing these types of services and the long term implications the treatments had for the women. Overall, the women felt that the holistic treatments they received had been effective for low mood/depression. It also was evident that the quality of the therapeutic relationship contributed significantly to perceptions of efficacy. Furthermore, practitioners' holistic explanations about illness fostered participants' understanding of health issues, thereby encouraging patient autonomy over personal health care. The participants continue to utilize CAM therapies and medical pluralism for themselves or their children. As well, two participants engaged in CAM studies for professional or personal use. On the other hand, the cost of treatment was a strong disincentive, almost making treatments inaccessible for some. An additional barrier to accessing CAM was the widely held negative stereotyped attitudes about herbalists. It was thought that if CAM treatments were more widely accepted and subsidized, they would be a more realistic choice for health consumers.
Type
Thesis
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Bell Hunter, K. A. (2007). Beyond Hypericum: Perceptions of Treatments by Herbalists for Depression (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences in Psychology). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11642
Date
2007
Publisher
The University of Waikato
Rights
http://www.waikato.ac.nz/copyright.shtml
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