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The relevance of traditional ecological knowledge for modern herbal medicine

  • Jonas Brab
    Jonas Brab

    Jonas is a medical herbalist, and in this role he sees clients, teaches aspects of herbal medicine at The School of Herbal Medicine and works for Organic Herb Trading, where he produces tinctures and infused oils.

    Before becoming a medical herbalist, Jonas completed a BSc in forest
    science and forest ecology. For many years, he has been interested in
    matters of sustainability and in finding solutions for the challenges we face today.

    Through first-hand experience, Jonas has been able to explore many different ways of relating with the more than human world, be it through growing vegetables and herbs, wood working, bee keeping, bird watching, camping, basket making, leather tanning, or other natural crafts. Inspired by his own love for nature and natural crafts he worked in outdoor education for many years, bringing nature closer to children of all ages.

    Through his work with Organic Herb Trading, he has gained many insights into the global matters of the herbal trade and he is keen to raise awareness around sustainability within Herbal Medicine.

  • 14:24 reading time (ish)
  • History Sustainability & Social Welfare

Indigenous people hold valuable wisdom when it comes to managing their natural environment, and harvesting crops sustainably. This article shares fascinating insights on what we have to learn from them.

… I think we are called to go beyond cultures of gratitude, to once again become cultures of reciprocity.

― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass 

The relevance of traditional ecological knowledge for modern herbal medicine

One of the fundamental premises of Herbalism is the interconnectedness of life. Everything is interdependent. To be healthy, the whole body, mind and spirit have to be taken into account, and lifestyle, diet, sleep and other factors to be considered. With their versatile phytochemistry and different personalities, plants have been used as medicine for probably as long as humans have been around. But are modern Herbalists appreciating the interconnectedness of their craft to its full extent? Today we are part of a global community of plants, ecosystems, growers, suppliers, herbalists and patients or clients. As herbalists, we use many herbs that are not native to our ecosystems and even those native to our ecosystems, are often gathered and processed in different countries or different continents, from ecosystems we have never seen and by people we have never met. Do we know where the plants come from, how they were harvested, and how the ecosystem was treated in the process? We may celebrate these plants, and show our gratitude by expressing our thanks. But gratitude is not enough to sustain a healthy relationship. 

Today, more and more plant species are facing extinction, many of which are used as medicines(1). To sustain a healthy relationship with medicinal plants, we have to step back into a more fully reciprocal relationship with the plants but also with the Natural World in general. But what does a more reciprocal relationship look like, and what kind of worldview allows a reciprocal relationship with plants to flourish?

Jonas Brab

Jonas is a medical herbalist, and in this role he sees clients, teaches aspects of herbal medicine at The School of Herbal Medicine and works for Organic Herb Trading, where he produces tinctures and... Read more

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