Hey there my name is Eric and I am a Western Medical Herbalist based in Victoria, BC. I am graduating (Summer 2021) from Pacific Rim College, a leader and pioneer in holistic health education and clinical training, in their intensive 3 year Diploma of Phytotherapy, which includes over 500 hours of hands on clinical experience
I have always had a keen curiosity for the world and the creatures that inhabit this Earth. This lead me to pursue Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology in University, which remain key interests. As I was pursuing my academic career, weeds found their way through the cracks of my understanding of people, medicine, and where I felt my place was in it all, during a difficult time in my family with health challenges.
So Why Herbs ?
How do they work ?
Herbs and the use of plant medicines have always been in picture for humans, playing a fundamental role in our diet and health and medicine. Their use in medicine and disease treatment goes as far back if not further than our literal evolution as a species. The remnants remain in the kitchen, with our use of herbs and spices which impart rich complex flavours to cooking and drinks. In the past physicians were herbalists, and vice versa, and every mother and grandmother knew enough to care for their family and local village for mild to moderate health concerns. Herbs were the primary tools for medicine and disease treatment, with hundreds of thousands of years of trial and error, and remain so for most of our population, with around 70% of the world's population currently relying on herbal medicines for primary care. They are the basis of our pharmaceuticals, mind you most these days are a far cry from resembling a plant. Even so about a third of the WHO’s (World Health Organization) List of Essential Medicines are directly plant derived or based. The word drug even means roughly a dried herb, pointing to the origin of its use in medicine.
In a nutshell it's inherently no different than our capacity to eat, to drink, to survive on the potential bounty that nature provides. Humans have always consumed plants, and other beings that eat plants, often the ones we can't ingest. We are designed from tip to toe over the millennia to extract nutrients from our environment, which in turn provides the basis of our organism to survive, function, and thrive in its environment. Herbs, being plants (and fungi!), are no different than the plants and plant eating animals we consume. In that sphere as well are plants, fungi, and other substances that can do harm, just as the carnal forces of nature can when we aren’t protected and armed against them. Another way to think about it is that there are different degrees of herbs. There are ‘food’ herbs, inherently providing nutrition and are often more edible, ‘medicinal’ herbs which sit somewhere beyond the world of food in what they provide and how they interact, and ‘poison’ herbs which tend to have stronger, often negative effects on our bodies, but even they can have their place in the context of medicine and disease. As often is the case, the devil is in the details.
There are herbs that are stimulating like Coffea arabica and other caffeine, a xanthine alkaloid, containing plants. Others are sedating such as Humulus lupulus, Hops, often an ingredient used in beer. Some are pain relieving like Filipendula ulmaria which contains salicylic acid, the chemical basis and inspiration for the drug Aspirin. Some herbs have constituents that affect inflammation and immunological pathways, some interact with our hormones and neurotransmitters, and some work more fundamentally on specific organ tissues, or functions of an organ to provide support, such as digestion and elimination. More often than not its combinations of the above and beyond that a single herb possesses, which in turn are combined with other herbs for further synergy and complexity, matched to an individual with their own dynamic complexity and uniqueness.
In the modern era it is claimed there isn’t any evidence that herbs work, or can stand up to scientific rigour and testing, which is false, as if thousands of years of use and hundreds of years of clinical evidence wasn’t enough? There are thousands of scientific papers on herbs and their medicinal use, scores of successful clinical trials, patents, and so forth. In European countries the practice of herbal medicine as a front line choice is much more common, with countries like Germany bringing it directly into their Western medical system, with two thirds of German physicians prescribing herbs as primary treatment strategies, based nothing more than on the rigorous scientific and clinical evidence.
Interested in bringing herbs into your life? Whether it be for prevention, health maintenance and promotion, or working with patterns of imbalance and disease, reach out for a consultation.