W estern herbalism is a holistic approach to health involving herbs, nutrition and lifestyle adjustments. We’ve evolved using plants and mushrooms as food and medicine. The body recognizes them, and when used appropriately, they can be a safe ally on the path to health and wellness.
Western herbalism has ancient roots from around the globe. So, while my favorite botanicals are the local weeds and only the most abundant local native plants and mushrooms, I do use organically grown plants and mushrooms from outside of my region to best support the health and wellness of the person in front of me. The Herb Notes on this site is a place to learn more about medicinal herbs, mushrooms, plant aromatics, science and other health-focused topics.
The best approach to herbalism is when the botanicals are matched to the person. It’s not simply about what a particular herb, mushroom, or food “does”, but also about how its energetics and other qualities — warming, cooling, dampening, drying, aromatic, bitter, pungent, and more — fits the person and the issue at hand. This is allows support for the roots of health as well as for the more superficial branches that represent what’s outwardly going on. True herbalism is not a “kitchen sink/one size fits all” approach to using herbs and mushrooms. It is the specific selection of botanical allies for each individual used in a trio with nutritional- and lifestyle support.
Finally, engaging with plants — in a mug of tea, in a local park, in the backcountry, or growing up from a crack in the sidewalk — is a way to reconnect to one’s own wild nature. This is not a naive assumption that because something is “natural” it’s good for us when it comes to what we put into our bodies. Rather, it’s a simple and profound (and nowadays, seemingly radical) recognition that we are not separate from this dirt- and water-, plant- and fungi-, and critters of all shapes and sizes-covered rock on which we reside.
“What commercial drug dealer is going to want to prove that saw palmetto is better than his multimillion dollar drug, when you and I can go to Florida and harvest our own saw palmetto?”
– James Duke, Ph.D., USDA scientist and herbal medicine specialist. Rest in peace, December 2017.