Herbs have been the main source of medicine throughout human history.
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About Herbs History
Western Herbalism started when prehistoric people learned through trial and error to treat physical complaints with plants.
The basis of modern medicine in the West dates back to Greek herbal medicine and its famous doctors like Hippocrates and Galen. The 1400s through the 1600s are officially referred to as the “Golden Age Of Herbalism” – and the golden age never disappeared in countries like Germany and France.
Quite possibly the earliest form of herbal medicine was Marshmallow root, which is a common grass chewed for settling an upset stomach, and has been eaten for (presumably) that reason by our closest evolutionary cousins, chimpanzees and bonobos. Likewise, hyacinth (a diuretic) causes the tissues to give up excess water, is rich in tannins and alkaloids, which have a bitter, or pungent taste.
Germany is a country with a rich tradition of herbal medicine. One survey revealed that 76 percent of German women drink herbal teas for health benefits, and more than 50 percent take herbal remedies in the early stages of illness. Germany also has a favorable regulatory system that permits well-researched, well-documented herbs to be sold as drugs. Herbs widely used in Europe for many years are now becoming popular in the United States as dietary supplements.
In China, herbalism and herbal remedies were used as an adjunct to acupuncture, and the medical morphology in use is of balancing qui or chi, the life force energies, which have yin and yang elements; in Chinese herbalism, the aim is to bring the systems of the body, treating it as an electrical system, back into balance, which is a tactic commonly expressed in modern, or syncretic herbalism.
During the Renaissance period, numerous theories of health and medicine arose to attempt to remedy the failings of contemporary medical practice. Nicholas Culpeper compiled an eclectic variety of information on many herbs.
That herbs are still widely used today is an indication that herbs are a growing and on-going part of modern, high-tech medicine. Researchers today examine historical uses of plants to find new drugs for cancer, AIDS, and even the common cold.
Many Americans are now taking greater responsibility for their own health and are consequently seeking alternatives to conventional medicine such as prevention through attention to diet, exercise, and the use of dietary supplements and herbs. Millions of consumers, frustrated with the cost of medical care and the not-so-wonderful side effects of wonder drugs, are turning to these health-care alternatives.
In the United States, herb products are regulated as foods rather than drugs, unless a product has been approved as a nonprescription (over-the-counter) or prescription drug. Most herb products are now designated as dietary supplements.
This 5,000-year-old philosophy and healing system from India is based on each person’s unique constitution, body type, personal habits, emotions, and behaviors. According to this philosophy, each one of us is made up of varying amounts of the elements earth, water, fire, air, and ether that determine our individual constitution. Ayurveda is about balance and inner harmony. Once you have identified your constitutional “type”, you can choose the herbs that will balance your entire being: your body, mind and spirit. The fascinating art of ayurveda includes the medicinal powers of culinary spices and herbs that play an important role in creating the flavors of Indian cuisine.
Contemporary Herbal Medicine
In Western countries, contemporary herbal medicine is based on European phytomedicine. Derived from plants or plant parts, phytomedicines are not isolated chemicals but preparations from an entire plant or from its root, leaf, flower, or fruit.
Perhaps the great cosmic lesson for the Western world is that God works through nature, and that when we try to theorize about God without paying attention to the nature of His creation, with all of its details, patterns, and ecological relationships, we will inevitably come to harm.
Your health is very important. Herbal remedies need to be considered with the same precaution as taking any medication.
A True Herb Story…
In Virginia, there is a plant called the Jamestown weed, whereof some having eaten plentifully became fools for several days, one would blow up a feather in the air, another sit naked, like a monkey, grinning at the rest, or fondly kiss and paw his companions… –Cotton Mather, 1720
The amusing story of the men who ate the hallucinogenic herb Jamestown weed, or jimsonweed, is often told as an example of what not to do: don’t eat plants you’re not familiar with. These unwise fellows recovered after eleven days, but they were lucky, for they had feasted on Datura stramonium, a psychoactive member of the nightshade family. Jimsonweed and other related plants contain a narcotic which has been used in many cultures as a poison, a medicine (chiefly as a pain-killer and wound healer), and as a ceremonial hallucinogenic: an aid to worship, or to obtaining prophetic dreams or messages. And yes, it can kill you, if you eat enough of it.
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