INTRO TO HERBAL MEDICINE
“When I first heard of herbal medicine, I had no idea what it even meant. I had been struggling with chronic illness for many years, so when I saw a flyer advertising for an introductory class, I signed up without knowing what I was. I fell in love with the rich history and global tradition of working with medicinal herbs, and immediately found great relief from many of the symptoms I was dealing with at the time.” -Kelsey, Herbalist at Remedy
What exactly is Herbal Medicine?
Herbal Medicine is the art and science of working with medicinal plants to bring about healing in the body. Medicinal plants can be used to both build and create wellness, as well as heal from an acute or chronic illness or health issue. It can be as simple as drinking herbal tea to cure a stomach ache, or as complex as a custom formula taken over a long period to address hormonal dysfunction.
For many of us here in the states, herbal medicine is a foreign concept - this is unique as the majority of the world’s population still relies upon herbal medicine as their primary form of healthcare. It is crucial to consider this as it highlights the level of privilege we experience here - where we have access to both vitality promoting herbal medicine as well as modern life-saving medicine.
Herbal medicine has a long-standing history in every culture across the globe. If you do a little research, you will find that your own culture does too! It can be deeply enriching to learn what herbs your ancestors used. Herbalism has developed many different traditions and lineages, that originally were based upon which plants grew where people lived.
The three schools or lineages of herbal medicine that you are most likely to hear about are Western, Ayurvedic, and Chinese herbalism. Each of these traditions has valuable practices, systems, and theories on which they are based - and they all have many different subsets. Western herbalism is the most common here in the states, and it varies widely based upon who is practicing and where they studied throughout their career.
On a purely physical level, plants contain a myriad of chemical compounds that work synergistically with one another. When we consume plants, we absorb these various constituents, and they have different effects on the body. We describe these effects as ‘herbal actions’, some of which are used in the pharmaceutical industry and some of which are exclusive to herbs.
A great example of this is our state flower, the California Poppy. When consumed, the aerial parts (leaves, flowers, stems, seeds) of this plant act as both an analgesic and a sedative. The term analgesic refers to its ability to relieve pain, while the term sedative refers to its ability to calm the nervous system and promote sleepiness.
This biochemical model for working with medicinal herbs is extremely valuable and is actually how many, but not all, pharmaceuticals are made. A plant will exert a specific effect on the body, and researchers will then try to isolate what chemical compound elicited that physiological response. Once they do, a synthetic version of this compound is manufactured and sold as a pharmaceutical drug.
Herbalists around the world will tell you that herbal medicine is more than this simple chemical model. Interacting with the plants themselves, whether while foraging or growing them in your garden, is an enriching experience. I encourage you to pick one or two herbs a dig in! Learning about herbal medicine might change your whole life as it did for me. I hope this introduction helped you to understand why we value herbal medicine here at Remedy and why this pharmacy is so unique!
PS. WE HAVE A TREAT FOR YOU - JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!
Seen how the holiday season is upon us and we are talking about herbalism, we want to share our favorite (and very simple) Champagne Herbal Cocktail recipe with you!
We are talking very simple - just three ingredients! Champagne, Angostura bitters, and raw organic sugar cube.
Most of you have heard of bitters as a trendy craft cocktail component but that’s not what they first started as. And it’s definitely not all that they are. This apothecary staple was first marketed in the 1700s as a remedy for common ailments such as digestion irregularities. Bitters act as a great digestive aid, and its primary effect is to stimulate the digestive enzymes to breakdown food and assist in the absorption of nutrients. Mixing it with a spirit of choice (in this case, we’re choosing bubbly) will not only add a whole new dimension of flavor, but it will help to support your body while you sip.
CHAMPAGNE HERBAL COCKTAIL
Your favorite champagne
Raw organic rock sugar cubes
Rosemary sprigs as an option for garnish
Place one sugar cube into a flute, add a few drops of Angostura bitters to the top of the sugar cubes and top with champagne.
Cheers to your well-being + Happy Halloween!