Australia’s oldest complementary medicine association, the National Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA), held its ninth international conference on herbal medicine last weekend in Sydney.
Three keynote speakers from the US, Sweden and Australia, Dr Joe Pizzorno, Jonathan Treasure and Dr Michael McMullen, along with a myriad of other presenters, educated delegates on the latest research and shared pearls of wisdom gleaned from their phytotherapy practices.
“I think the NHAA is really setting the standard here. I know of herbal and naturopathic associations around the world that do not have this regular coming together with a forum for international speakers,” said Associate Professor Kerry Bone, practising herbalist for 30 years and co-founder of the Australian herbal products company MediHerb.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us all.”
The conference offered a diversity of subject matter with academics and clinicians addressing issues such as dementia, microcirculation, mitochondrial health, cancer, menopause and exotic germs including Marburg (related to Ebola), Chikungunya and Dengue fever.
Dr Jason Hawrelak, researcher and lecturer who practices at a herbal clinic in Hobart, Tasmania, spoke on gut micro organisms.
Gut microbiota, a name used to describe the microbial ecosystem of the digestive tract, contains ten times the number of cells that make up our body and is essential for good health.
“Consider the microbiota as an official organ like the liver and stomach,” Dr Hawrelak said.
“If you actually take all the little bugs and scoop them together you would get an organ the same size as the liver. It plays a very important role and I think it is much underappreciated.”
The conference, which is to be held biannually due to popular demand, attracted more than 400 delegates.
“Attending the conference helps to continually update our professional education. Then we can return to our clients and give them the benefit of our expanded knowledge and the ever-increasing certainty of our evidence base,” said Linda Bates, experienced master herbalist who has attended all NHAA international conferences to date.
The NHAA is working towards making herbal and naturopathic medicine accessible to the whole community with Herbal Medicine Week, where practitioners promote herbal medicine to the public and answer questions, held annually in spring.