What is Plant Medicine? Part 1: Approaches to Herbalism
Sharing the magic and healing of plant-medicine with integrity means time traveling back to where things started. Did you know that herbal medicine has been studied and used since prehistoric times? Originally practiced by indigenous people in various parts of the world, Herbalism is the study of pharmacognosy and the use of medicinal plants. Modern interest in plant-medicine and natural healing practices have skyrocketed over the past 10+ years, in part due to CBD and adaptogens but also due to people feeling like some parts of western medicine have failed them. That’s certainly where it began for us!
Image By: Paula Codoner
To kick things off, we’ll run through the 4 main types or ‘theories’ in herbalism - Folk Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Modern Herbalism,
Folk Medicine - This type of herbalism exists in every culture and is handed down from generation to generation. Folk Medicine combines herbal medicine with methods of healing that are passed on from an anointed person and typically blended with religious beliefs, most of which relate to witchcraft or magic. Some methods of Folk Medicine were thought to be born out of traditional medicine failing poorer people and cultures.
Focuses on: Herbal remedies, cultural traditions, spiritual connection, etc.
Traditional Chinese Medicine - An ancient form of herbalism. TCM looks at your entire well-being, approaching the body from spiritual, mental, and physical perspectives - believing that “Qi” is a vital force of life and any imbalance of Qi causes disease or illness. This form of herbalism focuses less on science and more on balance and harmony through energy.
Focuses on: Qi, Ying & Yang, herbs, diet, acupuncture, cupping, preventative care, Tai chi, etc.
Ayurvedic Medicine - Often referred to as Ayurveda, this is likely the oldest form of herbalism. Ayurveda was started on the Indian subcontinent and is still used in some form by over 90% of India’s population. The main focus of this type of herbalism is to preserve health by balancing mind, body, and spirit. Like many other types of herbalism, Ayurveda aims to be preventative rather than specific types of treatment.
Focuses on: diet, massage, yoga, meditation, herbal remedies, preventative care, etc.
Modern Herbalism - This type of herbalism is a blended version that takes aspects out of each of the above methods. Many of the herbs and plants used in modern herbalism are now backed heavily by scientific research, sometimes even making their way into prescription drugs. A blend of old and new - eastern and western.
Focuses on: diet, meditation, herbs with targeted benefits, whole-plant medicine, preventative care, etc.
It’s important to note that these are not the only types of herbalism but these are the most common. Many if not all theories in natural medicine can fall under or take from one of these 4 methodologies.
As a brand in the modern world, we’ve benefited greatly from the research and legacy of both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. Not to mention, the medicinal plants and practices gleaned from ‘our’ country were shared and discovered by Native Americans and African Americans that had been enslaved. Modern Herbalism owes a great debt to indigenous people all over the world. Our Good Day and Good Night formulas wouldn’t be here without the historical guidance of all the types of herbalism mentioned above.
To sum things up, understanding the foundation of each theory can guide you on the path to being your fullest self - we believe that there are valuable practices to be learned from all of these methods. Plant-medicine is truly a full-being experience so be sure to include mind, body, and soul when you embark on your journey.
A more in-depth, research-backed look at how plant-medicine works inside your body will be coming to our blog next week - stay tuned! Sign up for our newsletter and join our magical community on Instagram to be the first to read!