Harry Potter might have given it something of a renaissance, but herbology has been around for centuries.
Dating back more than 5,000 years, it has spanned the globe, from Native American tribes to practitioners of Australian Aboriginal bush medicine to ancient Mesopotamia.
From apothecaries to ancient healers and pharmacists like the famous Nicholas Culpeper, known for his study of herbology. However, today it’s still a popular practice, from simple teas to spa products and even in use on the NHS. So what is herbology and what are the benefits?
Herbology is the study and use of natural herbs, plants, and botanical knowledge to treat health and wellbeing problems. It’s a natural way to help heal, prevent and treat illness, and improve health using ingredients from the world around us.
From fresh plants, to extracts, spices and herbs, many of us use it every day, often without realising it. For example, those who are fans of herbal teas might use chamomile to soothe or ginger for an upset stomach. The famous Nicholas Culpeper of the 1600s healed London’s poor for free using herbs from the countryside and also published the first herbal self-help book (The Complete Herbal) in 1653.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks herbal medicine as the most popular type of traditional medicine in western Europe, citing that up to 80% of people worldwide use herbs, spices, and herbal remedies in their health care. In Britain it is even possible to get herbal treatment on the NHS, although it always goes without saying that if you have particular health conditions you should always check with your doctor before introducing new products and medicines, even of the herbal variety, into your regime.
For many, herbology is part of general health and wellbeing. In terms of its general benefits, they can be restorative, support the body and allow for a natural first port of call for minor ailments without immediately reaching for conventional drugs in a world where we are all more mindful about over use. That said, they are not an alternative, and you should always consult a doctor if you are concerned.
In terms of specific benefits, it really depends on which plants and botanicals you are using. For example, cinnamon is said to help reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar and alleviate nausea. Basil is an anti-inflammatory. Garlic can help with blood pressure. Cayenne is said to boost circulation, and mint alleviates nausea and calms the nerves.
Herbology can be used in a variety of ways, from tablets to teas, powders, lotions, oils, ointments, syrups, poultices (often used in massage), infusions, aromatherapy, tinctures, juices and in their whole form as fresh or dried plants.
As mentioned, you probably already use them in the form of herbal teas, or maybe even your skincare routine. Perhaps you use a herbal steam inhalation when you have a cold. Or add particular herbs and spices to foods for their healing properties. However, herbology products in spas are also a beautiful way to introduce herbology into your wellbeing. Product line, Elemental Herbology makes the healing powers of plants an intrinsic part of what they do. They also bring nutritional herbology into skincare – for example, as Managing Director, Louise Riby said to us in interview:
“All our products are packed with ultimate nutrition. Sacha Inchi oil for example is incredibly high in omegas and essential fatty acids, and the effect on the skin is fantastic. Kombucha, a fermented tea which most people eat, as it’s great for the gut, is also a powerful ingredient for the skin too.”
A rich and joyful way to get closer to nature and enjoy its healing powers, herbology and herbalism are longstanding practices that offer both healing and meditative joy. Making it the perfect part of a holistic spa experience and something you can draw inspiration from at home as well.
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