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When All Herbs Were Cure-Alls

Written by Meghan Rhodes MCPP MAPA

I've been head down in my books as of late, preparing course materials for my upcoming autumn and winter herbal medicine workshops. It's always wonderful to pour over the knowledge of many ages and generations recorded in the written word and reflect upon the incredible wealth of information we are so fortunate to have in this time.

While there's increasing research into the various compounds in our pharmacopeia of herbs and 'how they work', something that's caught my eye in combing through the folklore and historical uses is how many herbs were considered cure-alls or panaceas by the civilisations of yore.

old, weathered books resting on a table with a mortar and pestle and bunches of dried herbs

It is very tempting when first getting to know medicinal herbs to think of them from a western allopathic mindset - this herb is good for that symptom. And yes, whilst some herbs do have strong affinities with particular parts or functions of the body, when we cultivate deep knowledge of a plant, we realise we can do so much with a very small set of herbs.

Perhaps that's an advantage the ancients had over us - they had access to the plants and knowledge that grew locally, so they had to fully absorb all of the nuances of each one's uses, rather than being able to have an endless number of herbs available to limit their perception of into very narrow paradigms.

And for my students who have begun their journey this year and want to take their knowledge further next year, that's exactly what we'll be doing - going deeper into our understanding of a select set of herbs and remedy making processes, getting to know the medicine and ourselves on a more nuanced level.

If you want to journey into the wisdom and skills of the past, book on to one of my upcoming workshops. There is nothing I enjoy more than enabling people to remember, reclaim and relearn this knowledge.


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