I often get asked: 'So what is Herbalism anyways?'
In a nutshell, Herbalism is the study of plants intended for medicinal use. Herbalism is an umbrella term that is rooted in many different ancient traditions and practices. The herbalist is a practitioner of Herbalism.
Before modern science, technology, and pharmaceuticals: there were only plants and herbs for medicine. Many people have shunned the tradition of Herbalism as being antiquated in the face of modern medicine. Few people realize that the roots of many pharmaceutical drugs are derived and manipulated from some constituent found in and inspired by Nature. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in plant medicine and many scientists and researchers have begun to focus their efforts on proving the effects of herbs in controlled studies.
What does the herbalist do?
Every herbalist has their own niche and not every practice looks the same! Some focus on medicine making which is extracting the medicine from different herbs through various methods (i.e.- teas, tinctures, salves, balms, infused oils, etc.). Others are dedicated to growing medicinal herbs and wildcrafting (ethically harvesting) them in nature. Some are focused on Botany, and others on studying the phytochemical processes in herbs. Some are passionate about herbal energetics, and others on the clinical application of herbs. Some are teachers, and others are artists. And many herbalists cross over all fields of interest and weave many different elements together.
Essentially, the herbalist uses medicinal herbs as their tool...and the applications are vast!