Wild Herbs have been in use long before recorded history. Uses include medicinal, magical, industrial, and culinary. When history was transferred from oral to the written word, records of herbs and their uses have been discovered in Egyptian, Persian, and Hebrew cultures as early as 3000 BC.
Practices and Definition of Herbalism
There are many practices of herbalism including Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic, Native American, and European.
Over 10,000 species of herbs exist in the world. An herb can be classified as a small seed bearing plant with fleshy parts rather than woody parts. Herbs flavor, fragrance, medicinal qualities, health benefits, dyes, economic, industrial and pesticidal properties are of considerable value.
The types of herbs besides perennials include annuals, trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, mosses, algae, lichens, and fungi.
Benefits of Herbs
Using herbs as a medicine provides many essential benefits. Compared to conventional medicine, while medicine herbs are used in a whole state. Unlike conventional medicine that uses isolated parts of a whole.
Hippocrates, The Father of Medicine quotes: “Let your food be medicine and your medicine be your food.”
The body responds to herbs as nutrition and nourishment, since they are in their whole state considering them a food.
Since herbs are considered food they are well tolerated by the body and have a reduced risk of side effects, easily being assimilated and broken down.
Herbs are also effective with chronic conditions. Many people with chronic conditions turn to herbs to reduce the chance of side effects often caused by conventional medicine.
Many herbs are widely available outside your door. They also cost less at a fraction of the price, and can be grown at home. Most herbs used for medicine require little care, are prolific and easy to obtain for a home garden.
In many parts of the world herbs are the only medicine available.
Disadvantages and Safety of Herbs
Some disadvantages to herbs include emergency situations. Medical crises such as broken bones or heart attacks need immediate professional care. Doctors can set the broken bones and have the equipment to resuscitate a heart. Herbs in these situations can only serve as aids in helping the healing process along.
Lack of information is another variable. Especially concerning the proper dosage of herbs personally. While most herbs are benign, to someone who applies the wrong dosage of certain herbs at home in as little as a gram can prove lethal or toxic.
Many wild herbs have poisonous look alikes. A proper identification guide is key when gathering in the field.
Lastly some conventional medications can have adverse effects with some herbs and their chemical makeup.
Be cautious and aware of your sources when purchasing herbs. Make sure the buyer is reputable and ethical, not selling inferior herbs or endangered wild herbs, due to the lack of regulation in the herb industry.
Herbs are an integral part of our future and deeply rooted in our past. They are a wonderful medicinal gift given to us since the beginning. Herbs when used with respect will reward you with beauty, comfort, healing, food, and reconnection to your wild past.