In tradition there is no precise distinction about the use of a plant as a food or as a drug, this is a modern distinction; knowing the medicinal properties of a plant allowed it to be included not in the daily diet, but also as what we know now as drugs.
For instance, when we eat "pozole", a delicious traditional Mexican dish, we are ingesting a set of ingredients that have a balance in their preparation: some elements considered as "hot" and others as "cold", in addition to the widely known proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which are important for human beings and their health, in an adequate balance. Oregano, onion, chili, radishes, lettuce and lime are herbs and fruits that have properties by themselves, and whose presence in the famous pozole allows the inclusion of chemical compounds that are considered "medicinal", apart from the vitamins and minerals recommended by modern doctors and nutritionists.
Although in modern medicine plants and compounds derived from them are used as active ingredients, and progress is increasingly found in the super specialty and in the isolation of specific compounds; now scientists are turning to biotech compounds, using animal tissue or genetically modified material from microorganisms such as viruses.
In contrast, herbalism is based on the fact that plants are living organisms that "accumulate" or "synthesize" various compounds in their different parts (flowers, stems, roots, etc.), and therefore tend to have particular properties according to its species. This is why we find that certain plants (such as chamomile, garlic or marijuana) are "good" for treating a wide variety of diseases and conditions. In this regard, fortunately, there are already many modern scientific studies, so we can know, more precisely, the desired and undesired effects of plants.
However, although modern medicine is not at odds with spirituality, modern science does ignore the spiritual effects of plants, something that herbalism does not; because tradition is also linked to traditional medicine (with its very diverse cultural variants), which starts from the idea that man is body, soul and spirit, as well as everything in the universe, including stones and minerals. That is why plants are also attributed spiritual properties, particularly those that have compounds that interact with the spirit and mind of humans, which are named "Master Plant Teachers".
Therefore, the study of herbalism is an exciting and complex task that involves knowledge of plants and their properties, knowledge of modern science concepts such as dosage and pharmacology (specific effects), as well as spiritual concepts such as the chakras (and their equivalents in different cultures), broad definitions of health and the treatment of the patient, as a being evolving in his consciousness.
1. Mendoza Castelán, Guillermo. Lugo Pérez, Roque. (2011). Plantas Medicinales en los Mercados de México. Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Departamento de Fitotecnia.
2. Sosa Gómez, Reinaldo. (1997). El Poder Medicinal de las Plantas. Gema Editores.
3. Pamplona Roger, Jorge D. (2019). Enciclopedia de las Plantas Medicinales. Safeliz.
4. Vanaclocha, Bernat. Cañigueral, Salvador. (2019). Fitoterapia, Vademécum de prescripción. 5ª edición. Elsevier.
5. White, Linda B. Foster, Steven. (2002). El Recetario Herbario, Las Mejores Alternativas Naturales a los Medicamentos. Rodale.
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