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Introduction to Herbal Medicine


Plant material has been found in ancient burial grounds. They are believed to have been placed there because they were found to be useful medical herbs in life, and therefore would be believed to be of use in the afterlife. Through the ages herbal knowledge has been past down from generation to generation, through families and from teacher to apprentice. In Britain this dissemination of knowledge was interrupted by 2 major incidences: the fear of being classed as a witch in the middle ages; and the spread of orthodox medicine.
Nowadays this loss of knowledge is compounded by 2 things: many people combine herbal medicine with prescribed medication, and many herbs are available as concentrated extracts (therefore knowledge of traditional use is no longer relevant).
Herbal medicines are extremely effective, so much so that many of the modern orthodox medicines are based on medicinal herbs. To do this the herbs have been analysed and one or two constituents extracted, concentrated or artificially synthesised. But herbalists believe the best way to use a medicinal herb is in the most natural form: as a fresh or dried herb or in a tincture of the herb. They can cite instances where using the 'whole herb', rather than a concentrated extract, is safer and more effective.
Herbal medicine is (and has always been) accessible; many herbs used to be available growing wild, and nowadays they are readily accessible from herbal dispensaries and even greengrocers. In Britain today herbs from all around the world are available from a wide range of sources.