Humans have used plants as medicine for millennia. In fact, Barbara Griggs in her book Green Pharmacy talks of Neanderthal man laying eight different flowers around the grave of a loved one, seven of which are still used for medicine today. These plants may have been chosen to protect the person from sickness in the next life (or they may have just been really pretty flowers) but the fact we still use nearly all of the today is astounding to say the least! These plants include the beautiful slippery marshmallow root, perfect for a sore throat in winter and present in my own dispensary in 2018.
Herbalists have evolved from witch doctors, spiritual leaders and shamans (not to mention your local pharmacist) to become the middle man between community healer, doctor and big pharma today. We sit on the cusp of traditional and modern medicine and ensue a balancing act between those herbs used by caveman and those proven to work via double blind placebo controlled clinical trials.
However, before a lab worked out how to synthesise and isolate chemical constituents from herbs, every doctor and pharmacist was in fact a herbalist! Big pharma was in plants and medicinal trade was a shipment of an exotic herb from across the seas, rumoured to cure syphilis, to England or America.
Naturopathic principles are simple and astute. Trust in the healing power of nature and that of the body to heal itself, do no harm, treat the cause not just the symptoms, treat the whole person, educate and prevent.
Medicine in all forms quickly became a way of earning money or livelihood. Today, herbal medicine is thought of as expensive and inaccessible to many. It is not under Medicare and only loosely covered privately in Australia.
My goal is to educate every single one of my clients to care for themselves herbally when it comes to everyday ailments, rather than relying on me as their only source of medicine and healing. If we can each learn to heal ourselves and our family and pass this knowledge on I believe we can contribute to a healthy community with less disease and better quality of life.
Now, we aim to complement modern medicine. To assist in reducing side effects when an isolated ingredient is necessary but volatile. Or to treat diseases that are yet to have a medicine, prevent a genetic disease or help manage chronic illness. Why don’t we also continue to use the herbs we know work on the simple everyday ailments? Tummy upset, stress, mild pain in the form of menstruation or headache, cold and flu.
Once upon a time every housewife would have collected and cherished her own herbal medicine first aid kit. The local healer encouraged the lady of the house to care for her family and treat common sickness herself, only calling the doctor in when needed. I want you to have access to your own kit, and to add to it as your family needs grow.
To have access to such effective natural medicine is a privilege today. I am a huge advocate of medicine in all forms but I think if we can treat it naturally we should. This means that we will lessen our need for pharmaceuticals, side effects and allow them to work better when we do need them.