Hippocrates, often described as the father of modern medicine once said – ”The greatest medicine of all is to teach people how not to need it.” It is a theory long resigned to the history books.
The order of the day now comes with a prescription, and systems of medicine proven successful over thousands of years are now referred to as alternative treatments in the mainstream narrative. Preventative healthcare such as clean and uncontaminated water, food, rich in nutrients, exercise and stress management also take a back seat to the bombardment of television, newspaper and social media campaigns that suggest health comes in a syringe.
The awe inspiring capability of our innate immune system and complex and unique human bodies to heal, adapt and overcome is merely a work of fiction according to so called ‘scientific’ advisors and the medical professionals who have long since sold their souls to that almighty and omnipotent paradigm known to many, simply as ‘Big Pharma.’
The ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, Chinese, Arabic and Greeks were all known to utilize the medicinal power of plants.
Natural medicine systems date back far further than written records exist. Shandiar IV, a 60,000 year old Iraqi, Neanderthal cave and burial site was found to include pollens, flowers and plants known for their medicinal properties. 1
The oldest written herbal, ‘Pen Ts’ao’ by Shen Nung dates back to approximately 2800BC and contains details of 366 plants and their medicinal effects.
The Ebers Papyrus 2 dated to approximately 1550BC [a passage referencing the lower Egyptian Den would indicate a time period closer to 3000BC which suggests the text may have been copied from a far older source] contains information on over 700 natural remedies to treat ailments of every description. The use of willow bark was recommended for pain relief. Willow bark is of course the source of acetylsalicylic acid or as it is better known, aspirin.
The ancient Indian text, the Rig Veda mentions over 1000 medicinal herbs and the The Charaka Samhita is a significant work of considerable antiquity which explores the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Ayurveda was said to be handed down from god and is still practiced in India and throughout the world today. Turmeric, a powerful and potent root possessing astoundingly impressive anti inflammatory and anti cancer properties was just one of the many natural remedies written about in ancient vedic texts which possess medicinal properties, being recognised by science today.
In 400BC we saw the introduction of the illustrated herbal. Hippocrates, made the pursuit of health and understanding of medicine accessible to the ordinary man. He stressed the importance of exercise and lifestyle. He explained that food was our medicine. Ayurveda also incorporates this understanding to aid healing, embracing the wealth of medicinal plants and roots made available to us by nature.
Paracelsus was a German-Swiss physician and alchemist. Born in 1493, he experimented with extracting the active principles from natural remedies to improve them for purpose. The stronger reactions witnessed by patients were far greater than usual which led him to believe the efficacy of the remedy would also be greater. Treatment with ‘whole’ herbs was slower to facilitate. Many herbalists and natural practitioners today understand the combined act of constituents working in symbiosis have benefits extending beyond the immediate relief of a condition.
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Fast forward to England, the year is 1518 and the Royal College of Physicians who promise to improve the standard of medicine and regulate the education of practitioners are granted great power by the king. Acts of parliament begin to intervene in the arena of medicine, passing bills to acknowledge the status of physicians and surgeons from apothecaries and so forth.
Subsequently the Royal College were to launch a campaign of persecution against lay practitioners who were favoured and trusted among the majority of the public. Herbalists were faced with discrimination and even prosecution. This was not supported by the general public or people who held position in higher society who passed a bill to protect those who God hath endued with the knowledge of nature, kind and operation of certain herbs, roots and waters and how to use and minister them. During the reign of King Henry VIII herbal medicine was protected by law and made accessible to the poor in England with the famous ‘Charter of King Henry VIII’. 3
Born in 1616 Nicolas Culpepper had a Cambridge education and despite a medical career being far more lucrative a prospect he chose to take his apprenticeship with an apothecary. He raged against the new complex prescriptions and medical profession, claiming the only thing their doctors were capable of relieving patients of was money.
He was to author the most famous herbal of all time, The English Physician. He lived out his life continuing to treat patients with simple, low cost, herbal remedies.
Yet as the medical establishment grew in power and influence mineral based drugs, sold over the counter became the fashion. The poorer and country people still collected and prepared their own herbal remedies. Advocates of herbal remedies continued to publish books and speak out on the many dangers of drug treatments. Calomel or mercury chloride was a favourite treatment among the orthodox practitioners at the time and prescribed to treat everything from teething to STD’s.
Early vaccination programs, occasionally mandated by government and opposed by the public were cited as the cause of an increase in epidemic sickness and general poor health. 4
When reading before the medical society, Montreal in 1872 DR. J. Emery Coderre, Professor of Materia Medica, at the University of Montreal, Canada, stated
”Vaccination has made victims among us; some have contracted small-pox in consequence of the inoculation of the vaccine; others have been attacked with gangrenous ulcers, syphilitic sores and more resulting from the introduction of this virus into the constitution.”