The Healing Power of Herbalism At Ohlone
By Pam Fischer
Pam Fischer is founding director of Ohlone Herbal Center, which provides professional and apprenticeship programs for aspiring clinical herbalists, as well as an herbal medicine dispensary and clinics for the community.
With the cost of allopathic medicine skyrocketing and a deepening awareness that it may not address many pressing health concerns, Western herbalism has emerged to provide critical healing solutions to physical, mental and spiritual challenges. Based on ancient traditions practiced worldwide, Western botanicals offer a highly effective, affordable healing modality primarily using native North American plants ingested as teas, tinctures, and alcohol extracts, or applied topically as salves, oils and liniments.
Throughout history, plants have been fundamental to all forms of medicine; worldwide, 20,000 documented species are currently used for medicinal purposes. In fact, our ancestors used plants for healing for centuries! According to the World Health Organization, approximately 75 percent of the world population depends on botanicals for their basic health care needs.
Yet herbalism is far from well known in the U.S. and Western herbalism remains obscure to many. Most people haven't learned about the healing power of local plants. Few also understand that local plants can enhance the effectiveness of Western medicines, decrease their side effects, and sometimes even replace them. In addition, these herbs are environmentally sustainable, low cost, and support local growers. They are geared for holistic, long-term health by creating a body/mind balance, rather than simply eliminating the physical symptoms of disease. By ingesting and applying natural remedies, we develop inner harmony that supports our healing and prevents our bodies from breaking down.
In order to create effective remedies tailored to each client's needs, the clinical practitioner examines the whole person in addition to understanding their current health issues: their emotional life, stage of life, spiritual directions, etc. Then they create herbal medicines harvested from local plants for clients to take in solutions.
I have worked as a clinical herbalist for more than 20 years, helping thousands of clients resolve their health challenges. I have seen the profound healing effects of Western herbs, and am convinced that our local plants conspire to give us good health, especially when we also address core emotional and spiritual issues that deeply affect our well being.
Ohlone's studies in Western herbalism are based on clinical practices and traditional knowledge of medicinal plant remedies preserved by oral and written traditions over thousands of years. The indigenous knowledge of plants and plant medicines is based on a deep relationship to land, place, and home. While allopathic drugs burden our natural resources and create waste contributing to global pollution, local plants deeply benefit the body and the earth. In addition, most pharmaceuticals are oil-based. What will we use to heal our bodies when the world runs out of oil?
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