Spiritual Herbal Connection
The use of medicinal plants has been deeply intertwined with spiritual practices throughout history. Our ancestors possessed a profound understanding of nature, recognizing the healing properties of plants and using them for various purposes.
Shamans, in particular, have always had a close connection with therapeutic plants, possessing a wealth of plant knowledge that has been passed down through generations. Shamanic healing is still practiced in various tribal communities worldwide, allowing us to witness the transmission of this knowledge.
Ayurvedic Medicine, follows a holistic approach and recognizes the connection between the body, mind, and spirit.
Where did herbal medicine originate from?
Our ancestors possessed an extensive understanding of nature, utilizing the plants around them for various purposes, often through trial and error. Over time, this knowledge has been passed down through generations.
Archaeological evidence indicates that medicinal plants have been used for over 60,000 years, as they were found at Paleolithic sites. While some may speculate that these plants were used as food, their bitter and astringent taste suggests they were likely used for medicinal purposes.
Shamans, who have always had a deep connection with therapeutic plants, possess a wealth of plant knowledge that has been passed down through generations. Shamanic healing is still practiced in various tribal communities worldwide, allowing us to witness the transmission of knowledge.
Shamans’ plant knowledge is so extensive that they are able to use plants deemed too dangerous for human use. Medicinal plants have been discussed in ancient texts such as the Sumerian clay tablets from 5,000 years ago, Ayurvedic Vedas from 1,500 BC, and the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Materia Medica from 1,000 BC.
Hippocrates viewed illness and health holistically, emphasizing the importance of treating the entire person rather than simply suppressing symptoms. As communities grew closer in proximity, disease became a significant issue, and Hippocrates treated his patients with a Materia Medica of over 400 herbs, as well as promoting exercise, bathing, and a healthy diet.
The ancient Greek texts Enquiry into Plants, De Simplicibus, and De Materia Medica, all dating back 2,000 years, provide written evidence of herbal medicine.
During the rise of the Catholic Church, medicine was primarily practiced by holy men. However, Arabic culture made copies of the Greek texts and combined them with their own knowledge, creating Unani Tabb. They also utilized the Egyptian Herbal healing found in the 3,500-year-old Ebers Papyrus. Ayurvedic Medicine, which dates back to teachings in India 3,500 years ago, also follows a holistic approach.
Shamanic healing in South America being frowned upon by Catholic Spanish conquerors, who disapproved of the use of “magic” mushrooms. Although North American tribes and Aztec practices were outlawed, they continued to pass down their plant knowledge through generations.
In the 19th century, Samuel Thompson played a significant role in popularizing Native American knowledge in herbalism. His influence drove the physiomedical herbalist movement, which believed that hot and cold energies played a vital role in illness presence and resolution. Eclecticism also emerged, utilizing plant monographs, active constituents, chemistry, and pharmacology, with a focus on using the whole plant instead of isolated plant extracts.
King Henry VIII
The UK has a law protecting the rights of herbalists to practice, which was championed by Henry VIII. The King had knowledge of herbal medicine and carried equipment to make herbal medicine during his travels. He created the Charter of King Henry VIII to ensure that village wise women treating the poor could continue to make herbal medicine legally. This charter protects herbal tradition in the UK to this day.