Herbalist, Reiki, Bowen and Psychotherapy in Peterborough

What IS a herbalist? Published in The Link Feb 2010

Securing a definition of a herbalist is a little like nailing jello to a tree.  There are as many ways to describe an herbalist as there are an artist.  I find beauty in that fact.  Humans have relied on herbs for healing since pre-history and there are active and vibrant herbal traditions on every inhabited continent.  The World Health Organization states that 80% of medicine practiced world wide is herbal.  There is as much diversity in herbalism as in culture itself.
Simply put, a herbalist is a person who uses plants as a healing agent for human suffering.  (This includes, but is not limited to physical suffering.)  The way they go about doing that is style.  There are herbalists who grow out of a Western, Chinese or Ayurveydic tradition, or have come to blend these traditions into an eclectic style of their own.  Some herbalists come from a scientific perspective, some focus on the spiritual approach.  Some spend their entire careers working with the plants themselves, harvesting medicines for others and some have spent little time in a garden, with all their attention in clinic, working with people.  Still, there are others who have literally grown up with herbalism, their training coming from witnessing a parent healing with plants.
The thing that ties us all together are the plants.  Plants have an intelligence that is unique.  Science is not able to replicate the complexity that exists in plant structure.  Pharmaceuticals often use plant derivatives, however, I believe this severs the healing potential.  Whole plant medicine offers healing that is as evolved as our own bodies.  Any ailment which can be experienced by the human body, can also be eased by plants.
I am trained in the Western Herbal Tradition.  It is my job to match the best herbs for a person’s concerns, but really, it is the herbs and the person who do the work.  The aim is to rely on herbs, nutrition and lifestyle to address a person’s well-being, so supplement use is limited.  I focus on the person as a whole, rather than the person with an illness.  Every aspect of a person’s life deserves attention.
The tools of my trade are teas, tinctures (herb qualities extracted with water/alcohol,) herbal oils and salves, but often I feel the listening ear is the most important one.  In todays fast paced environment, often there isn’t time given to discovering really what is going on.  For true healing, the root cause needs to be addressed for any illness.
Over the past year, I have been writing this column [for The Link], focusing on individual herbs.  I would like to shift this slightly.  I invite your questions, so that this column can be an “Ask a Herbalist” column.  Obviously, I cannot treat under these circumstances, however, I would be able to provide some ideas of how to approach a given situation.  Please send your questions to info@elderberryherbals.ca, and I will do my best to answer as many queries as possible.

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