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  • Writer's pictureJennifer

Herbal Wellness History

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

Herbal remedies, not just for medicinal use and daily wellbeing but along with being a natural food source has been around likely for as long as humans have existed.


Medicinal herbs were collected, consumed and prized in Ancient Greece. The Greek scientist, Dioscorides, documented the medicinal properties of more than 600 plants in his 5th century work De Materia Medica. This is a subject that I am passionate about as I see it as one of the last vestiges of Medicine that has been pared down to just one component- plants- which are 100% natural and have few side effects.


Many people today enjoy herbal remedies for their health or wellbeing on a regular basis but are unaware of where they came from and how they have evolved over time. So let's talk about how that transpired.


Folklorists, such as Richard D. Hooper and Edward Grant, have put together a great description of how the history of herbal remedies can be traced back through time.


1) The Gods used herbs for healing and intoxication (Dioscorides, De Materia Medica)


2) Ancient Greek physicians such as Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Soranus recommended plants in their works (Hippocrates- Hygiene; Dioscorides- De Materia Medica; Soranus- On Diseases). This was around 400 BC.


3) The popularity of herbal remedies grew from the 1600's onward in Europe. The use of medicinal plants was strictly regulated by doctors and apothecaries (pharmacists), who in most countries, also controlled the sale of herbs to the general public. Medicinal herb gardens were also established by the earliest universities.


4) From the 1800's on, herbs became more available to the public through pharmacies and general merchants. Around this time many magazines and books were being published about herbs and their uses.


5) In the 1900's the booming Chinese herbal remedy industry fueled an increase in the use of herbs by the general public. Many traditional Chinese herbal remedies were exported to other countries and herbal remedies became more popular than ever before.


The current day practice of using herbs for healing is falling by the wayside, and in some countries such as Germany, there is a push to abolish herbs as a form of medicine, with only allopathic medicine being recognized as official treatment. In Germany you can still purchase medicinal herbs over-the-counter (OTC) but they must be sold with a doctor's prescription.


Natural Medicine in the US was obliterated in the early 1900's just as scientists were beginning to understand the basics mechanisms of health and how we live. During that same time is when they discovered vitamins that we know to be essential now, like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin B1 & B2. It was a pretty big step that allowed vitamins to act as remedies for vitamin deficiencies. That is when John D Rockefeller decided to capitalize on the medicinal use of the herbs and make prescriptions from their chemical compounds. He started by purchasing part of the German pharmaceutical company I.G. Farben which then allowed him to control a drug manufacturer and get rid of his competition. He was famous for his wealth and his ownership in the oil industry as he owned 90% of all petroleum refineries in America so needless to say his influence ran deep.


In 1938 medical doctors started to shift from using herbal remedies almost exclusively to using pharmaceuticals. This eventually resulted in the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 which was put into place by John D Rockefeller.

The law states that any food or drug sold must be labeled as such, a true and accurate representation of nature's working. Any product with medicinal properties must be labeled as such and can be sold by anyone. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Food And Drug Administration (FDA).


And folks, that is the short version of how herbal remedies stopped being so pronounced and well known throughout the world. Herbal Wellness and Herbal Remedies is (I feel) making a comeback, and it's because people aren't getting healthier from modern medicine, they are getting sicker (not counting in the fact that our food is completely unregulated which deserves a whole other blog). Most of our doctors aren't taking the time that they need to be taking to actually look at our symptoms, and do research on them thoroughly and thus just give us medications to suit one symptom that may fit in their "mold" of what might be wrong.

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