What Is Herbalism?
Let’s start with health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “state of complete physical, emotional, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease.” That sounds really deep! And that is a super technical way to describe health. Now Herbalism is one of the oldest forms of healing in the world. Herbalism can be found in every culture around the world. They use plants to help people as a holistic approach to mind-body-spirit care.
The What & How of Herbs
If you cook, you most likely use culinary herbs in your kitchen. Culinary herbs in sense typically refer to leafy parts of plants. In the context of herbalism, herbs involve leaves, berries, roots, outer and inner barks, rhizomes, twigs, flowers, seeds, mushrooms, and fruits. Herbs support a large range of wellness for humans and can support balance through the action of their many chemical constituents, vitamins, minerals, and energetic qualities.
Most importantly there’s a point I want to stress about herbalism and the holistic approach to mind-body-spirit. That being the emphasis on the mind-body & spirit. Holistic wellness focuses on the entire body system, not just the location of the pain, injury or area of chief complaint. For example, in herbalism, if you were to go to an herbalist for pain in your lower gut. You will get asked a series of questions. You will probably think that some of them have nothing to do with your gut. But an herbalist is looking for the root cause of that pain and is not going to give you a pain pill for the pain, but instead is going to do or give you something to start correcting what is causing the pain.
On the other hand, Traditional Western Medicine uses all the types of medical treatment everybody is used to including surgery, chemotherapy, and physical therapy. Then if the doctor feels the need, you get prescribed drugs. The practitioners of Western medicine will be doctors, nurses, and all the other specialists that you get referred to.
The Ever Popular Prescription Drugs
You are going to have to listen to me get on a very large soapbox on this subject. I’ll start off gentle. I was required to do an 8-10 page research paper for my Aromatherapy Certification. And boy was I nervous having to do that paper! Anyway, I had decided to do my paper on the history of aromatherapy. That is to say, that research was, even more, an eye-opener for me. I already knew that the essential oils were a totally amazing natural way to wellness, but it raised so many questions.
Firstly, why did essential oils fade away? Above all, why did we all go to these prescription drugs instead? Yes, this is when my soapbox ranting and raving is going to start winding up! The all-natural way went away and prescription drugs came in.
Let’s Compare the Difference
First, we have essential oils that are all-natural. Oils almost always have no side effects. The only side effects you are going to have is an allergic reaction to a certain plant. Essential oils and herbs are super concentrated so it takes very little for mixing into blends, lotions, salves, teas, etc.
Secondly, we have prescription drugs. And here is where I get a little emotional because I can’t wrap my head around it most of the time. Take the commercials you see on television for instance. Every single one that comes on advertising a prescription drug spends the majority of the commercial listing all of the adverse side effects. And oh my gosh! Some of the side effects sound horrible! After they mention all of the horrible side effects, I’m thinking I’ll just take my chances with the illness.
Are They the “Root” of the Problem
As I mentioned above, essential oils and herbs basically have no side effects. If these natural gifts are used correctly, basically the only side effect would be is if you were allergic to a certain plant or oil. On the other hand, the majority of prescription drugs have numerous side effects. Some of which do not sound very pleasant! When I started really reading some of the side effects on a few of my medications, I was in total shock! And holy cow…there’s some I hear on tv that can cause cancer? Aren’t we trying to find cures for cancer? And now there are prescriptions that could cause cancer? That’s just not making sense to me.
Consequently, as I was going through one of my herbalism courses, one of the discussions was how we go to the doctor and get a prescription for a problem. Then we go home and start taking our new pills, going on our merry way. A few weeks later we are not feeling good and it lasts several days so we go back to the doctor. And guess what? Yes! Your doctor gives you another prescription for your upset stomach or whatever the complaint may be, that you were probably told was a virus or a “stomach bug”. Firstly, think about it, that symptom didn’t start until you started on that first medication the doctor gave you. Secondly, if you check the side effects of that medication, I bet those symptoms you were having is one of those side effects.
I Did Prove That Theory To Be True
I am a diabetic. Therefore I am on a couple of oral medications and insulin as well. There was one of the oral medications that I had been on for quite some time. However, I started having some stomach issues. The first thing I started doing since I hadn’t had a change in medications was a food elimination regime. What that means is that I started eliminating one certain food item from my diet for a week or so to see if my stomach issue improved without it in my diet. I continued doing that for several weeks with no improvement. So I had no choice but to go to the doctor. This problem was getting too serious to not do anything about it.
So I see the doctor and right away she says she suspects the one diabetes medication. That’s the one I mentioned that I have been on for quite some time. She told me that after time it can start causing those problems. To sum it up, I was taken off of that medication and given a new one. When I got home, you know I had to “google” the side effects of that medication. And there it was! My exact symptoms listed right there in the long list of side effects.
My Opinion & Belief
To sum it up, with my level of training it is my firm belief that taking prescription drugs for our chronic illnesses are causing like a chain reaction. You have an illness. You get put on medication. A side effect(s) of that medication starts causing another illness, and you get put on another medication for the new illness. Next thing you know, you are on 10 medications for 10 different complaints that started out as one. That just doesn’t sound fun to me anymore.
Another plus in looking at healing holistically is that sometimes, rather than using herbs, what someone may need is a massage to address structural issues, change in diet to eliminate allergens, a medical intervention, or even acupuncture. There are alternatives to the holistic side.
You can make your own choices. This is based purely on my opinion, experiences, and training. I’m just amazed that thousands of years ago when all people had was nature and plant life for healing and did very well with it. They learned how to use those resources for healing. Then it was taken over by such things as prescription drugs that do so much harm to the body. I’m sure that there are some prescription drugs out there that do well and don’t have horrible side effects. I am glad to see that the essential oils and herbs seem to be more and more prominent.
In conclusion, I am not a doctor. This is only my opinion. I am merely sharing my opinion and knowledge. You are free to comment on this post, but keep it clean and nice, please. None of the statements or comments are directed at any one person, place or thing.
Be safe & Be well!