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What is an herbalist?

Cheryl Heppard

Although in the last several years there’s been a deep renewed interest in medicinal plants, the way to use them that has been popularized has been severely lacking. Often, one of two extremes exists; either the herbs are used in a very superficial “take this herb for that condition” manner (echinacea for colds and flus, valerian for insomnia, st john’s wort for depression, ginkgo for memory), or the herb has been scientifically investigated for the “active ingredient”. Then, all sorts of assumptions have been made based upon the actions of one constituent, and not the whole herb. For example, using black cohosh for menopause because “it contains phytoestrogens”, which simply isn’t an ideal use of that plant. Both of these approaches lack any of the refined nuance that exists when working within the traditional structures of herbalism. Neither addresses the uniqueness of the individual relationship between the person, their well being (or lack thereof) and the plants used to restore balance. It’s impersonal. They may be using herbs, but they’re not doing so in a holistic manner.

The resurgent interest in herbs has also been largely commercial. People are often surprised to realize that they are quite literally surrounded by medicinal plants, and that by learning to properly identify and prepare these herbs as simple teas, tinctures, oils, and syrups they can create preparations that rival (and more often than not exceed) the quality of what can be purchased in stores, without spending a lot of (or even any) money. The majority of the common “weeds” we spray poison on (dandelion, creeping charlie, chickweed, plantain…) are intensely nutritious and medicinal plants.

Read the original article at: Detroit Examiner

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