Herbalism n. The knowledge or practice of healing with plants.
Herbalism, sometimes known as botanical medicine, is the oldest form of medicine. It is also the most widely practiced healing modality in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Throughout history, people of all cultures have practiced some system of herbal medicine, and the modern pharmaceutical industry continues to rely heavily on plant medicine as the basis for many medications. Elephants sometimes trek 17 miles in a day to find a borage tree to prepare them for giving birth. People have observed tortoises, goats, chimpanzees, and rhinos making use of medicinal plants as well.]
For some plants, a particular plant part (such as the roots or flowers) may be particularly helpful for healing. For others it is the whole plant. As herbalists, we seek to maintain or restore a sense of wholeness, vibrancy, and dynamic balance. We use some herbs as nutritious foods, others as healing tonics, and others to treat specific illness or symptoms. When addressing illness we aim to restore wholeness, address the symptoms, and treat the root causes of the disease while nurturing the whole person. Herbs can relieve pain, bolster (or even jump-start) the immune system, reduce inflammation, release a fever, relax bronchial muscles, enhance blood circulation, retard the tumor growth, nourish sexual desire, and address many other imbalances. Plants talk to us at all levels, molecule to molecule and spirit to spirit. They facilitate healing that is potent, profound, and life-affirming.