Not gonna lie...I'm taking a course in Herbalism. I'm geeking out in all of this awesome new info. I started this course thinking..."Okay, so like, I KNOW about herbs and stuff, I can just buff up my knowledge so I can share it with the public with a little authority, right?" But wow. Wow. There is SO MUCH I didn't know, or really understand about the study itself, let alone the vast catalog of herbs, their preparations and applications, and so forth. Mother Nature...I see you, gurl.
So, what is herbalism? The Herbal Academy (where yours truly is currently enrolled) defines herbalism as the "practice of using plants, fungi, and foods to support health, whether through offering nutrients, vitamins, minerals, or other constituents that act on body systems, organs, and/or the body as a whole." I like the word "act". Because up to this point, I really thought herbs were likened to homeopathy, which focuses on micro-dosing to affect the body's systems over time. But herbalism is not homeopathy, and it is not micro-dosing. High concentrations of constituents (the useful bits of a plant) are frequently used to make a change...and now(ish).
I hear the hesitation that most people have. In my mind, it was difficult to liken coffee (from a plant, obviously) to a plant like lavender, and consider both of these things equally effective. Coffee's effects are so obvious. One poorly timed cup too late in the day, and I will definitely need help getting to sleep. BUT I am saturated in lavender for the majority of my day at work, and I can stay awake through it. Hell, I can even be stressed there, in my dimly lit massage room that smells of French lavender fields, and sounds like angels singing me to sleep. Yep, pull-my-hair-out stressed. So not all plants are effective, right? Well...
This discrepancy has to do with an herb's preparation, and its concentration. It takes much more lavender than I am consuming through my nose and skin to have the same effect on my nervous system as my morning cup of coffee. This discovery for me is part selling point, part warning. Plants are strong medicine. A plant, although "natural" and possibly "organic," is not necessarily safe in massive quantities. Nutmeg, for instance, has a high risk of toxicity if more than a couple of teaspoons are consumed in a short period of time. Teaspoons. That's not much, folks. (There are many more examples of this here in AsapSCIENCE's video.)
So yes, plants can be quite effective, and so many of them are! It makes sense when you think about it: morphine came from the opium poppy, aspirin originally from the willow bark, and everyone's favorite stimulant, coffee...well, from coffee beans. And let's not forget the national herb du jour, marijuana. All of these are pretty strong, showing an obvious change in your body systems, right? I've gotta say, herbalism is not the milquetoast medicine I originally thought it was. I am continuously intrigued, and I cannot WAIT to see how I can incorporate this new knowledge into my services at Haven. I will definitely be sharing more info and recipes as I continue down this rabbit hole!