Hello and welcome to our column devoted entirely to Plants!
Plants, i.e. Herbs!
In this column, we will
- explore the role of Herbs in our lives
- discuss different plants, their uses, and their effect on our health in general
- talk about their specific benefits
- discuss their safety:
- i.e. when, how, and how much of each herb it is safe to take for specific conditions.
I hope you explore this column, send me your comments and questions, and I will do my best to answer you!Herbs have been used by Humans (and animals!) forever!
Before there were drugs, there were herbs. Yes, Herbs go back to Prehistory!
Yes, we have always collected herbs everywhere around the world, in every culture, and geographical area.
And we have dried seeds, dried plants, roots, twigs, in caves from Europe to the Middle East, south to Northern and Central Africa, east to India and China, west to the this continent of ours, i.e. everywhere on this planet, to prove it!
Yea! Herbs have been a part of human life from the very beginning.
Our ancestors communed with plants, worked through trial and error, and came up with astoundingly similar herbal answers over the millennia across all continents, cultures, and races.
They also observed the animals, where they went for comfort and healing, and learned a lot from them.
Women healers were instrumental in the practice of herbalism and healing and according to Folk Herbalist and great teacher of many of us Susun Weed:
“the Wise Woman tradition is the oldest herbal tradition, yet was never identified as such!”
Over the centuries, Herbal knowledge was transformed into the science of Herbalism.
Three major traditions developed throughout the ages:
- The Chinese Tradition, in the Far East.
- The Ayurvedic Tradition, based in the Indian peninsula
- The Western Herbalist Tradition, which started out in the countries around the Mediterranean basin (Egypt/Northern and Central Africa, Middle East, Ancient Greece and Rome).
- The Western Tradition eventually travelled to the Americas and blended with the great Native American knowledge and use of native plants.
- The Western Tradition was, originally, a tradition of folk medicine, practiced in the Ozarks, and other areas of this continent, combined with the Native knowledge of plants.
Today, however, Herbalism is taught in colleges and universities, herbs are studied diligently and their use is spreading from the “kitchen/folk” herbalist to medical doctors, i.e. from home made tinctures and salves etc. to the laboratories.
Do I think that is progress? Well, to be honest, I will always prefer the homemade products of the folk herbalist to the mass production of lab extracts and pills. However, when well made, these are easier for many folks to take, and so herbal use is spreading to people who would probably never have taken them otherwise.
This in brief is the history of Herbals throughout the ages.
In the next column we will begin looking at how different categories of herbs have developed for different conditions and ailments.
The main thing to consider and remember is that each herb is a special plant, with unique chemistry, unique effects, and unique powers. Each plant is a small kingdom of its own, to be respected, studied, understood real well, and used with care and the full knowledge of its powers.
Till next time, go outdoors, see if there is a small plant popping up even in the middle of winter, and bless it for its presence and its willingness to help us heal.