My herbalism interest makes sense: given my own allergies and chemical sensitivities along with my passion for gardening, understanding herbs, how they work, how they interact with each other and so on makes sense. While there’s always some laconic jackass that insists that herbs are “dangerous because we don’t know enough about them,” I have a complete Physician’s Desk Reference, John Lusts’ Herbal and several centuries of data, anecdotal and empirical, that renders the assertion bullshit. I’m not in the “older is better” camp by any means. The LAST thing I want is the “good old days,” and I am blessed and cursed with a memory good enough to know how very good they weren’t, not even for the white males and lobotomized females that actually want that crap again. When it comes to herbs, if you’re not just jumping on a trendy-train and taking it because Oprah says it’s good, but because you’ve studied it, gone to your library over it, maybe even grown it and found out whether it demands to be fed your girlfriend’s dentist before you ever take it – I think what you’re doing is fine, because there’s a good chance you’re not skipping visits to your allopathic/Western doctor because you read all the warnings, too. If I didn’t have allopathic medicine, I would be dead. If I didn’t have herbs, I’d be miserable. Negotiating very carefully between the two means that while my energy levels could always be better, I’m a)not dead and b)not in a terrible amount of pain most of the time. I am also, blessedly, not addicted to any substance – I’ve even seriously curbed my cheese junkie habit. Part of this is because I’ve been very careful in how I use my herbs, and in understanding what they do and how that would or would not play well with the medication and high dosage antihistamines I have to take because of my urticaria.
Please note that I am not saying herbs are safer, that their being natural makes them better, that or one should trust them in place of allopathic medicine. No, if I were to make any such assertion, it’s that allopathic doctors need to get their heads out of their asses and their hands out of the pharmaceutical tills, because herbs are a tool that they could damn well use effectively especially in complicated cases where medications accidentally poison instead of heal. Can herbs do the same thing? Yes – but usually, since herbs don’t work as fast as the pharmaceuticals made from distilling essential chemical components extracted from those same herbs, it’s a LOT easier to catch and correct when stuff does go wrong.
I am wondering, as I write this, if doctors ever went on a similar rampage against vitamins? We don’t know entirely the interactions of vitamins either, and yet doctors feel fine recommending those.
One of my life goals is to get formal certification as an herbalist. It’s expensive, and I have student loans to pay off, so it won’t be soon. I do not practice on other people; I only mix items for myself after 6 months to two years of research. It’s why you’ll only ever see teas mixed for pleasure in my Etsy shop. Between my own chronic allergies and the way more and more people are developing sensitivities, I suspect it will be a long course of study, and I don’t intend on hanging a shingle when I’m done.