Herbs, A History

Herbs and herbal medicine can date its history back before the 12th Century A.D., China. While herbs had been used for medicinal purposes, there was also magical intent. Only by about the 12th century A.D. were the deeper principles of Chinese medicine fully applied to herbal treatment, forming a method that can be called TCHM. Chinese herbal systems differ from European herbal systems.  Originally, herbal medicine in Europe was primarily a women’s art. That’s where the classic image of women, or witches, boiling herbs in a cauldron stems.  By the 13th century however, graduates of male-only medical schools and members of barber-surgeon guilds began to displace the traditional female village herbalists which contributed to the loss of original lore (NYU Langone Medical Center).

What is important to remember is that the healing properties of plants and herbs has not changed, even since the 13th Century. Witches and physicians of the ancient world were expected to know their herbs and we owe these practitioners of herbal medicine a great deal. They spent many hours in the fields and forests collecting local plants and herbs for their use. From their collected knowledge we now have the benefit of their wisdom.


Much of this credit should go to the Witches of the past because they are the ones who essentially began the work of learning and understanding herbs and their benefits.

Today, there are thousands of people returning to the use of herbs in their daily life. About one in five or an estimated 38.2 million adults in the United States used herbs and supplements in 2002, according to the National Health Interview Survey, which interviewed 31,044  consumers of the United States.

When you use herbs in your daily life whether medicinal and magical, there is value in their research.  As you build your knowledge of herbs, consider their application in singular use or in conjunction with other herbs and plants. Understand the fullness of their properties and if they are used medicinally, seek the guidance of a health care professional who is competent in herbal medicine before proceeding.  There are hundreds of herbs that play an important role in our lives and in our craft. Through an exploration  into herbs and their properties we explore our ancestors use of herbs and how they can be used today. If there is a particular herb you would like us to include, post your request in the comments section.





Traditional Chinese Herb Medicine (2012). NYU Langone Medical Center. EBSCO Information Services. Retrieved from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=37410


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