In a lot of ways, herb usage hasn’t changed that much. We still use herbs on our foods to make them taste better and be more digestible, and we drink herbal infusions for their taste and health properties as well. Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Naturopathic doctors rely on herbs even today for balancing out bodily systems, and other health advisors such as nutritionists and massage therapists sometimes use herbs to produce certain specific effects in the body. Modern doctors on the other hand do not study herbs nor nutrition (for the most part), and pharmaceutical drugs have taken over as the one size fits all band-aide for almost any illness or ailment. Now modern medicine has its place and I absolutely do not fault doctors for not studying herbs and nutrition and for relying on drugs, because they have their own body of knowledge to learn and it’s incredibly important. No one wants to go back to leaches and non-medicated surgery I’m sure! But we need to remember our roots, (and our seeds, and our leaves), and know that often there are things we can do to help ourselves that don’t require pharmaceuticals with scary side-effects, nor a ton of money or effort. People used to know which herbs cured what in their own little communities, and they ate simple seasonal food because they had to, back when all food was organic and non-gmo. They also used herbs daily in other practical and even spiritual ways as well, to bless their homes and keep out ‘evil’, to keep vermin out of the house or out of their bedding, to help with bad smells of both house and body, and to beautify their surroundings and themselves. Many still do these things, and more, because herbs have never left our sides, they have weaved through our humanity over time and provided a vine of ancient memory we can tap into and remind ourselves of our humanness, despite our chronic phone addictions and race towards a more and more technologically advanced world. We are still people who eat, who get sick, who enjoy beauty, who fight the signs of aging, who want to connect with the world beyond the screen and breathe clean air, drink clean water, and resonate with the plants, animals, and people in our world. We are local beings and yet we are the first humans on earth to collectively live international lives through screens and keyboards. In this time of major transition, we need to remember that herbs were the first medicines, food was once all organic, and we still need this earth and her goods way more than she needs us. Let’s be good to ourselves, and good to the earth, and take a moment every day to remember that the natural world is still all around us, waiting for us to engage.
This is the role of the herbalist in today’s world, as I see it. We are here to remind others to stay connected to the earth and all its inhabitants, green or furry, scaly or funny, these are the connections that will support our health and well-being as we age and grow. Some herbalists concentrate on knowing all the herbs out there and their uses, others concentrate on a smaller set and understanding them inside and out, while still other herbalists concentrate on client consultation, and others are the makers who turn plants into medicine. I’ve worked with an herbalist who mostly wild-crafted herbs and also did a bit of medicine making, and another herbalist who taught and wrote about herbs as well as saw private clients. Personally I’ve taught classes, written about herbs, and I love making herbal elixirs of all sorts, and I have tried growing them with varying degrees of success. I’ve also worked in the natural foods and products industry where many know more than the average person about herbs and use that knowledge purely for personal and family use while others used it to set up their own stores or to consult customers on the floor. We all have our specialties and with modern-day access to global knowledge and traditions, the herbalists of today have an abundance of options when it comes to their personal practice. The things that do not vary though, are the respect for the plants and the earth, the understanding that our ancestors had intelligence that is often overlooked today, and a deep love for herbs and all that they offer in terms of health, beauty, and well-being. I am so excited to share this space with you and I encourage you to seek out the herbalists in your own communities. You might be surprised at the expertise you find and the local products available to you. I hope to get a list going here with local information for everywhere in the world, but that’s going to take your help. If you are an herbalist or know of a great herbal resource, please contact me via the contact page or comment below so we can start gathering resources together. Also, please follow this blog by subscribing because this is just the beginning~ there is so much more to share in terms of optimal health and beauty and I have a feeling we are going to gather a great community here.
Take Care, Kristen