The History of Herbalism
There is nothing new about the use of herbs to promote recovery, health, and well-being. Herbalism is a time-tested ancient system of healing, practiced around the world for thousands of years. Archeologists have uncovered evidence which suggests that medicinal herbs were used in the Paleolithic Era, some 60,000 years ago. Every culture throughout the world has at some point used healing plants as the basis for its medicine. The range of plants varied from area to area depending on the local ecosystem, but the human problems they dealt with were the same. At one time, medicinal herbs were often grown in home gardens. Herbal remedies were commonplace and were shared when knowledge was passed from one generation to the next. At some point, as modern medicine grew in popularity, herbal remedies began to be mistrusted and were considered by some to be inferior medicine.
Today the popularity of herbalism is growing. More and more people are discovering that herbalism is an effective and comparatively inexpensive form of health care. They appreciate that it draws exclusively on natural products and have learned that it is as useful in preventing illness as it is in curing it. When applied holistically, herbalism offers us an opportunity not just to feel well, but to live well. It allows us to engage intimately and authentically with our own health and our world in ways that feel fulfilling and meaningful. Herbalism teaches us that each of us is unique, with different needs. Self-care requires self-knowledge, and balance is truly the root of wellness. It asks us to walk the path of empowerment and self-discovery, thereby positioning us as the one who "controls" our well-being.
In today's world pharmaceutical drugs are being prescribed at an unbelievable rate to mask the symptoms a patient is experiencing. We are in the midst of an era in which synthetic drugs and antibiotics are failing to keep us healthy, and this makes plant medicine even more important. Long term use of pharmaceutical drugs can contribute to other health issues. By nature, plants contain many of the same compounds found in the human body, which enables cellular recognition and the body's innate ability to break down the components. While herbs can certainly be used to treat acute symptoms, the herbal medical philosophy is to treat the underlying cause to support the body and improve overall health in order to be rid of the need for medications. The various application options for delivery of herbal medicine-from teas, to poultices, to washes, to tinctures and syrups-give us affordable choices that make one form or another available for everyone. Prevention is key! Be an advocate for your body. Treat it well, know its signs of distress, and learn how to assist it when it speaks to you.
Get out among the plants, for they are the best teachers. Reclaim the knowledge that was once exchanged freely by all.
You have only one body, so treat it like a temple. Give thanks every day.