An Herbalist's Place In This Conventional World
Not me- I like it this way.
I think Fiona Heckles from the UK said it best:
“You don’t have to have a medical degree to be able to practice herbal medicine, and that’s because the medical profession (the allopathic medical profession) doesn’t want to recognize it as a profession in itself.
But in doing that it opens up this amazing freedom to be able to study with apprenticeship programs or with whoever or however you want to practice, as long as you feel confident about it… what you really need to do is know your plants.”
Yes, legally, Herbalists have to be careful not to suggest they are impersonating a “medical professional” and need to stay on the side of education and information. But philosophically, that’s not hard.
We’re teaching people to care for themselves- the boring daily routines of good food and good rest and good movement
- We’re NOT trying to assume authority and responsibility for someone else’s health and wellbeing
- Plants don’t exist for our complaints so saying “You have X so you need to take Y” doesn’t work out. There’s an actual relationship there- we need to know the plant’s personalities to judge if it’ll match the person’s personality too
This all means that in the end, Herbalism's "place" in our world is in many ways outside of the usual way of doing things. Herbalists must follow the laws, but we make our own rules. I believe the care of your health is your own responsibility, a right that you deserve, and that is in sometimes direct disagreement with established health care expectations.
And this is OK, because Herbalists are also (often primarily) educators. We're all always learning how to be more healthy in these bodies we have, and that usually means learning new ways to think about everything. Someone like an Herbalist is well suited to help guide you through new experiences as well as new ways to understand them.
How do we practice? Let me count the ways
These ideas span the gamut of practice from:
- drop-dosing, to tea-by-the-quart
- straight-up intuition, to narrow science-based research
- from generations of tradition, to starting new traditions in the moment
So what? We’re out here helping people feel better using all the tools at our disposal, not treating our clients like machines missing some upgrades, or like disposable furniture.
Let me say it again:
I. Do. Not. Care. If. The. “Placebo Effect”. Is. What. Helps. You. Feel. Better.
Just so long as you do feel better.
In practice, Herbalism deals well with the vague and unspecific complaints people have that often stump Western medicine, which is mostly concerned with identifying the offending microorganism or organ and attacking it. Western medicine works well in many situations (believe you me, my time as an EMT taught me the benefits of Western medicine well.)
However, Herbalists are concerned with helping the body function to the best of its ability so our clients feel better, which is also vague and unspecific- plant medicine and people go together so well, you'd think we evolved together... oh wait, we did!
My own practice is changing
I want to ask you all, out here in the vast void that is an internet post- do you see any connections between your exercise/movement/work-out practices and goals, and your herbal wellness ones?
Or maybe even more to the point- Do you want to? How could connections like these serve you, help you, or even interest you?
I’m very interested in having a discussion with you about this. Comment below, email me, let me know what you think!