Herbs have been our friends since time immemorial. Humans could not have been created if plants were not present for nutrition, oxygen and water balance in our environment. Plants have been our protectors and caretakers since the moment we were born. Trees live longer than us and are older than human civilization. Just imagine the memory trees will have. What they would have seen? What they would have learnt? How do they protect themselves without even moving from their own place?
In Graham Hancock’s famous Ted Talk “War on Consciouness”, he mentions how the tribal people came to know about herb mixing. The tribals said that the spirit of ayahuasca told them how to make the brew.[i].
Modern forestry researchers like Suzanne Simard have also shown that below the earth are vast networks of roots working with fungi to move water, carbon, and nutrients among trees of all species. These complex, symbiotic networks mimic human neural and social networks. They even have mother trees at various centers, managing information flow, and the interconnectedness helps trees fight disease and survive together.[ii]
Peter Wohlleben, another forester in his research found that trees, like humans, have family lives in addition to relationships with other species. The discovery led him to write a book, The Hidden Life of Trees.[iii]
Understanding this about our beloved trees makes us more aware and sensitive to the use of herbs. Herbs as medicines are used in different parts of the world and different medicinal systems like Ayurveda, Siddha, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Balinese Medicine, Native American Healing and by grandmothers everywhere!
SIDDHA medicine is the oldest medical system in the world. Siddha is a Tamil word derived from siddhi-one who has attained perfection in life or heavenly bliss. Practitioners of this system were called siddhars. Wise men who meditated, wrote poems and had healing powers, siddhars were originally devotees of Lord Shiva. In ancient India, 18 important siddhars developed the system, which is why it’s called Siddha medicine. It evolved and flourished in south India (Dravidian culture).
AYURVEDA is a Sanskrit word, derived from two roots: ayur, which means life, and veda, means knowledge, literally translated means “science of life”. Ayurveda is India’s traditional, natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda is the system of health care conceived and developed by the Rishis and natural scientists through centuries of observations, experiments, discussions, and meditations and medical practice, handed down through generations.
Some Ayurvedic Herbs and uses : Click here
The Siddha and Ayurveda system are based on the principle that the macrocosm (the universe) and the microcosm (man) are similar. Man is made up of five fundamental elements: earth (solid matter), water (liquid matter), fire (energy), air (gaseous matter) and ethereal space between the other four elements. Reflecting this theory of cosmic oneness, the five senses of man are said to correspond with the five elements.
Ether (Akash-ayurveda /akasam -siddha) is responsible for hearing;
Fire (Agni/theyu) for sight;
Air (vayu/vayu) for smell;
Water (Apah/appu) for taste; and
Earth (prithvi/prithvi) for the sense of touch.
UNANI medicine has its basis in the universal laws which were understood by the ancient Greek and Egyptians, as well as Arabs and non-Arabs of the middle ages. The earliest surviving manuscripts recording Greek medicine can be traced back to Hippocrates (ca 460BCE-370BCE) and Galen (ca 129CE-199/201CE), both of whom studied medicine in Egypt. Unani or ‘Unani Tibb’ is an Arabic term meaning ‘Greek Medicine’. It is a system of medicine which is almost exclusively practised by the Muslim community in the Middle East, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Unani is based on the balancing of the four humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile), with any imbalance between them seen as the cause of disease. Unani methods are similar to other naturopathic therapies – using clean water, pure air and fresh food to prevent disease and seeking a balance between body and mind. It stands out for its abundant use of syrups and electuaries, (a medicinal substance mixed with honey or another sweet substance).
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM) is thousands of years old and has changed little over the centuries. Its basic concept is that a vital force of life, called Qi, surges through the body. Any imbalance to Qi can cause disease and illness. This imbalance is most commonly thought to be caused by an alteration in the opposite and complementary forces that make up the Qi. These are called yin and yang. There are many modes of treatment under TCM, one of which involves Herbs.
Some Chinese Herbs and uses : Click here
Some Home Remedies : Click here
To gain a deep understanding on herbs one must study in any of these systems for 3-5 years in an university. There are short courses that are available online for those of you who may be interested to learn as a hobby.
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Anupriya is an Alternative Educator, Holistic Healing Trainer, Trance Medium and now an Author who has mastered many different healing and teaching modalities. She has worked in La Wisdom Alternative Learning Center in Bangalore for 2 years. She has educated children and parents on varied topics like emotional awareness, casteism in india, team work, career choices and addiction awareness etc. She continues to intrigue the minds of young people with her logical and experimental approach. Having gone through her own painful spiritual journey, she also learnt every healing modality that she could get her hands on. She has been training people in – Meditations, Reiki Energy Healing, Emotional Freedom technique, different forms of Acupressure and Reflexology, Ayurvedic Colour Therapy, Sujok, Naturopathy, Bach Flower Remedies, Chakra Healing, Angel Healing and Pendulum Dowsing etc from past 5 years. She has also developed faster healing methods for trauma and abuse victims using various guided meditations, creative visualisations and breathwork. Her faster methods work best with working professionals who have little to no time for themselves and children who have no patience as she teaches very quick tips and tricks to recover from painful circumstances. She also offers longer ‘energy and consciousness’ courses for adults, teenagers and children who wish to awaken a deeper human and spiritual awareness within them.