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111. From Bandages to Botanicals: A Former Registered Nurse's Take on Organic Herbs and Herbalism.

Updated: Jul 11


Beth Israel Hospital of Boston, Harvard’s teaching hospital, was my daily reality for thirteen years. As a Registered Nurse, I worked for 3 years on an acute medical floor and 10 years in the Clinical Research Center. During that time I witnessed incredible advancements in the knowledge base of allopathic medicine. 


Reclaiming My Family's Herbal Legacy

My path to herbalism wasn't a straight line. After trading in my nursing uniform for motherhood and then exploring the world of fine art with an MFA, I found myself at an artist residency in Ireland. It was there, amidst the rolling hills, breathtaking views, and ancient traditions, that a remarkable discovery unfolded.


Both sides of my family, I learned, belonged to a lineage of Hereditary Herbalism Families. From the 11th to 18th centuries, they practiced their craft in Ireland, passing down knowledge of plants and their healing properties through generations. However, in 1695, British colonization slammed the door shut on these traditions. Practicing medicine, (It was all Herbalism back then), became illegal, forcing a centuries-old legacy of knowledge into hiding. This suppression, coupled with the displacement of the Irish Diaspora, resulted in the near-extinction of this invaluable practice within my own family.

The rediscovery of this ancestral heritage ignited a spark within me.  It wasn't just about reclaiming a lost family tradition; it was about reconnecting with a powerful system of natural healing and the wisdom it holds.


My father’s family ran an Herbal Medical School from 1400-1700 and my mother’s family wrote one of the preeminent books on Irish Herbalism. That mind-boggling revelation started my journey into the vibrant world of Herbalism, and my understanding of the undeniable benefits of using Organic Herbs.


Modern Medicine and Herbal Allies:

Over the years of practicing Herbalism, I’ve seen an exciting shift. There has long been resistance in Western Medicine to Herbal Medicine. However, there are currently some major players in the Medical world that acknowledge the healing powers/medicinal properties of Herbs. 


Written records of herbal use go back 5000 years - in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, African Traditional Medicine, Traditional Native American Medicine, etc. There are even cave paintings in Algiers from 10,000 years ago that show shaman-like figures with medicinal mushrooms growing out of their bodies. (!!) The history is there.


The research is there too. For millennia, herbalists have relied on the power of plants to address various ailments. Now, Western medicine is increasingly confirming this wisdom through scientific research. Typically a medicinal plant is “discovered” by Western Medicine after millennia of use by Herbalists, and it is analyzed in a laboratory. The property for which the herb is known is reproduced, patented, and then tested on mice. If effective, it is tested on humans in a Clinical Research Center, like the one I worked in for 10 years. If effective on humans, that property is approved for use by the FDA and then sold, and distributed by the Pharmaceutical company that funded the research.


Some research ends with the preliminary research where the properties of the plant are identified. If you skip to the conclusion of this research, you'll see a statement that says “further research is needed” to prove the plant’s effectiveness. Further research only happens when a pharmaceutical company is ready to invest in a new drug. Until then, the plant is considered ineffective and potentially dangerous by much of Western Medicine.


But we know better.


The interesting part about Herbs is that they contain 20-30 medicinal properties. These additional properties create an environment of healing for the whole body, not an isolated symptom. To be clear, that does not mean every herb is safe for everyone's use. Some of the additional properties in the plant might be contraindicated for certain health conditions. However, these additional properties often mitigate potential side effects.

***This information is why consulting a reliable, informed Herbalist is key.


Organic Herbs: A World of Difference

Here's why Organic herbs hold a special place in my practice:

  • Purity Matters: Organically grown herbs are free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, ensuring a pure, potent remedy.

  • Sustainable Practices: Organic farming fosters healthy soil and ecosystems, promoting a healthy planet for us, our health, and future generations.

  • Maximizing Benefits: Studies suggest Organically grown herbs may have higher levels of beneficial phytochemicals, the active compounds responsible for their therapeutic effects.


Working Together: A Synergistic Approach

It's important to remember that Organic Herbs aren't always a replacement for conventional medicine. There are times, especially during acute health problems, when pharmaceuticals are a better solution. However, pharmaceuticals can cause side effects, leading to other drugs being prescribed, which have side effects, and so on and so on.  When I worked as a Registered Nurse, it was not uncommon for patients to be on 10-12 medications, each successive one given to treat the side effects of the previous. 


Herbs are powerful allies if the problem is not acute - when there is time. As a Clinical Herbalist, I’ve seen the immense benefit of integrating these natural remedies into a holistic health plan.


The Road to Wellness is a Journey:

Before embarking on your Herbal journey, it's crucial to consult a qualified Herbalist to guide you. Come by our shop at 810 Washington Avenue, in Brooklyn, NY, or sign up for a consultation online. Check out the rest of the site to see all we offer at Spiral Herbal Remedies.


Remember: 

Organic Herbs offer a sustainable, gentle approach to supporting your well-being. Explore the world of these natural allies, and embrace a holistic path to health!

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