What is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal medicine, or Herbalism is the use of plants to support healing. It is a holistic approach and practice viewing symptoms and experiences as interconnected, and the human body as resilient and intelligent with an underlying ability to heal. Herbalism is rooted in a connection with nature, recognizing that humans are a part of (and a reflection of) nature rather than separate from it.
We need plants to be healthy and resilient beings and adapt to challenges we face in this world: both on the level of physiology responding to plant chemicals, and on the level of nervous system co-regulation that occurs when experiencing a connected relationship with the natural world. Herbalism can be an invitation for transformation and reconnection with the cycles of the Earth, bringing together parts of our ancestral wisdom lost or forgotten.
Herbal medicine can be supportive for any person, either with chronic or acute illnesses or anyone looking to live a more vibrant and balanced life. From colds and flus, injuries and wound healing, to long-term stress, sleep or mood imbalances, hormone or endocrine imbalances, diabetes, cancer and auto-immune diseases – herbs are for anyone looking to improve their resilience and well-being. Carefully chosen herbs or herbal formulas can encourage balance in a person’s body, mind and spirit. An energetic constitutional-based approach allows healing to occur on a deep level, finding the root of the imbalance over time rather than only managing symptoms.
Humans and plants have co-evolved for tens of thousands of years; plant medicine is the oldest form of healing known and recorded. Herbalism is as diverse as those who practice it; there are infinite ways that herbalism can be described and practiced.
Plants are complex, with hundreds of chemical constituents, life force and wisdom. Humans and plants have evolved together in symbiosis. For humans, plants can provide nourishment and strengthen our ability to adapt to the world we live in. We are exposed to so many challenges to our health every day – from stress and trauma to exposure to toxins, from inherited genetic predisposition to hormone disrupters to our various self-soothing tools to help cope with our lives. Plants support us on the level of our physiologic body: repairing tissues, reducing inflammation, repairing genes, regulating body systems, improving function of organs. Plants support us on the level of our emotional mind-body: shifting our perception to stress, releasing held tensions, moving through difficult times. Plants support us on the level of our spirit: the wisdom and memory that plants carry is passed through their bodies, reminding us of our own innate wisdom; it is one small step towards repairing a deeply wounded, profoundly needed relationship between humans and plants.