History of Medicinal Herbs

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History of Medicinal Herbs

Herbal medicine is the oldest therapy in the world. This therapy predates China, India, and Egypt, which are known for their herbal remedies.

Around 400 B.C. the Greeks started systematizing medical principles. Hippocrates, who is recognized as the father of Western medicine believed that our bodies have four types of body fluids, and that our bodies health was obtained by keeping these four types of fluids in proper balance.

So he relied upon herbs like: rosemary, fennel, and saffron, along with exercise, massage, and other therapies to keep these four fluids balanced, and to stimulate the bodies inner healing powers.

During the time that the Roman empire was expanding, Roman doctors started applying Hippocrates theories, and before Roman soldiers would go off to battle, their doctors would paint the soldiers feet with garlic oil. It was believed that this oil would stimulate the immune system and aid in healing when injured.

The Establishment Of Herbal Healing
During the Roman era, doctors like Dioscorides wrote volumes on herbal remedies in his work De Materia Medica.

Another doctor named Galen took Hippocrates theory about the four body fluids and expanded upon it, promoting the idea that “health” was a matter of balance.

When the Roman empire collapsed, herbal healing was already firmly established.

Garlic was widely used to combat the flu. Basil was used to ease cramps, and parsley was used as a diuretic. More importantly, was the idea that plants in general, if used properly, could be used to energize the bodies own healing process.

Herbal Healing Stands The Test Of Time During the medieval era, European medical practices took a turn for the worst. They started relying heavily upon purgatives (which is an extreme way of emptying the bowels) to emetics (which is a practice that induces vomiting) as a remedy to almost any illness, which is thought to have killed more patients then it healed.

Not only was that bad enough but the medical community started to attack local healers that used herbs, which caused a withdrawal of herbs used as a source of treatment.

During the fifteenth-century a doctor named Paracelsus became so discussed with the medical establishment, and their invasive and aggressive practices, that he devoted his career to natural herbal therapies. It was his voice along with his respect in the medical establishment that brought herbal treatment back into the spot light again.

Since that time, herbalism had remained an important and respected part of the medical community in Europe and in America up until the early 19th century.

However, herbal remedies almost became extinct during the 20th century thanks to pharmaceutical companies and their invention of “wonder drugs”.

Chemists hired by the pharmaceutical companies had discovered how to extract the active ingredients from herbs and patent them as “medications” for monetary gain.

With the massive profits made by these patents, pharmaceutical companies started funding medical schools. With the schools funding coming largely from the pharmaceutical companies, this gave those companies the opportunity to push their products and ideologies.

Successfully it became part of the medical curriculum taught at medical schools, which is that the body is seen as a machine with parts to be replaced or repaired.

So you treat the symptoms of the disease with drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies, while the cause of the disease goes ignored, which in most cases is unhealthy living.

It’s no wonder that today there is still a deep distrust between pharmaceutical companies and natural health care practitioners.

Although the Western world is slowly beginning to understand the importance of herbs as a medicinal use, over 80% of the worlds population use herbs to treat illness, and a large part use herbs as the first line of treatment for illnesses.

Although herbalists no longer believe in Hippocrates theory of the four body fluids, they still believe and practice the concept of a balanced body.

With the use of herbs we can keep our body in balance the way it was meant to be. With a balanced body we are able to better resist disease that effects so many of us.

Even if disease does hit us from time to time there are many herbs that can treat the cause of the disease so that we can prevent a reoccurence.

This is key to living a long and healthy lifestyle, which for most of us, is exactly what we want.

Steve Billesberger lives in Edmonton Alberta with his wife and small dog. He’s a owner/operator of a couple of sites one of which is yoursupremehealth.com. This site talks about a variety of topics from colon cleansing, to healthy weight loss, and everything in between.

Photo by Alice Henneman

Photo by Shawn Allen

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