Herbalists have an intimate knowledge of plants and their properties, and can accurately describe the effects of each when touched, steamed and inhaled, or ingested. They must understand these traits at different dosage levels as well as effective ways to mix them together. A lack of understanding could be catastrophic to the patient. To be an herbalist is to master the practical use of health-oriented Alchemy.
Most people view the herbalist profession as a waste of time because of the availability of magic for medical remedies. Those who have benefitted from the attentions of an herbalist however tend to feel differently, and value the assistance in speeding up their recovery time or alleviating their pain. Herbalism is also more popular in poorer areas as it is readily accessible to anyone with herbal knowledge and experience, provided the plants required are native to the area.
Magic has historically been the healing method of choice, utilized by Healers across Fillimet. Herbalists were only utilized when magic was unavailable or unaffordable until some healers began to notice that many of the herbalists' treatments actually did work. These healers began to employ their own herbalists and combine treatments, resulting in shorter recovery times and better pain management. Some herbalists have even developed pretreatment methods that allow the healers to provide more specialized care and attention, allowing them to also treat more patients. Now some herbalists are pushing for greater recognition and acceptance within the medical community. Led by Rudy Torvik, the Herbs are Healing Movement believe that their profession should be viewed as a respected alternate to reliance upon magical healing, rather than as merely a supplement or a poor man's option. They point to special cases where magic cannot provide the answer, such as in patients suffering from Unattunable Disorder, to push the value of their craft. While some groups have thrown their full support towards the herbalists, such as the fringe Order of Abstention and the well-respected Fillimet Magical Archives, the majority of the population of Fillimet are hesitant to change their perceptions of herbalism as a poor man's medicine.
Herbalists require the appropriate plants to provide their services. These are typically grown and harvested by the herbalist themselves whenever possible, or gathered from the local plantlife. Rarer items are typically purchased only when absolutely necessary.
An herbalist splits their time between the infirmary and the field, collecting natural healing remedies from the surrounding countryside or wilderness to then prepare and utilize for healing. Most herbalists also have an office or other base of preparation, typically full of drying plants and various apparatuses for crushing and mixing ingredients, with a section set aside for experimentation to discover new remedies. When possible the most useful herbs are also grown outside to provide a more convenient supply.
A good herbalist can reduce the efforts or duration required when healing with magic alone, through the use of their medicinal herbs. In some cases an herbalist can even help determine the cause of an illness, allowing more precision when implementing a cure. Herbalists have also developed some effective preventative treatments, while most magical Healers tend to be limited to reactive medical treatment only. There is also a small but growing movement to completely replace magical healing with herbal remedies, calling themselves the Herbs are Healing Movement. Led by Rudy Torvik, those subscribing to this belief insist that the reliance on magic is a weakness, and point a the small minority of patients unable to benefit from magical healing as a reason why less magic is better. Most healers and herbalists reject this philosophy, emphasizing magic's long track record and high rate of success.
Dangers & Hazards
Nature is full of hazards, from poisonous plants to violent wildlife, and an herbalist needs to understand and avoid them all. Developing and testing new remedies is also a dangerous business due to some unexpected results when combining ingredients or when utilizing the new concoction.