Christian Herbal Medicine, History and Practice
a new book by Judson Carroll
As an Herbalist, I am often asked, "Is Herbal Medicine Christian?"
The simple answer is, yes. Anyone of any religion, or none at all, can use herbs medicinally. If you believe in a loving God who created the earth and everything on it including humans, there is certainly no reason why anyone of any religion should be prohibited from using herbs or find using those herbs evil. In truth, not only is Herbal Medicine compatible with Christianity, but it was Christian monks, nuns and priests who preserved the herbal knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome.
In recent years, Herbal Medicine has become so associated with "New Age" religions, witchcraft, hippies and liberal/progressive politics that one can certainly understand the question. But Herbal Medicine has been practiced by Christians for about 2,000 years. Until only the last century, most medicines were plant based. For most of Christian history, medical education and the practice of medicine was both decidedly Christian and based on Herbal Medicine.
I know of no mainstream Christian denomination that has ever made a blanket prohibition against herbal medicine. Yet, one frequently hears people say, "The Church forbade the use of herbal medicine." It is just a broad, general statement - no edict is cited, or date given for such a proclamation. The reason for that is that none exists. It is a myth repeated so often that people believe it. Its origins are scurrilous and deliberate lies. This mythology is often taught in herbal schools and even college classes. This very recent phenomenon has poisoned many minds, creating bigotry against Christianity and what is called the "patriarchy". It is propagated by those who reject history, embracing instead the occult and neo-pagan movements that began in Victorian England and flowered in America at about the time traditional herbal medicine was being displaced by modern "allopathic" medicine through rule of law - not a church edict. Many of the champions of those laws were determined to stamp out religion, "superstition" and tradition - those were the so called Progressive (socialist) heroes of Leftist ideology.
Traditional, usually Christian men and women in remote areas such as the Appalachians continued to practice herbal medicine. In Germany, where the Progressives were particularly powerful during the rise of the National Socialist Worker's Party, the brave Catholic priest, Fr. Künzle sued and won in court to keep herbal medicine legal and practiced by both mothers and fathers in their own homes. Such facts of history are inconvenient to some.
Yes, Herbal Medicine is very Christian - it is using the herbs God gave us, with the knowledge and wisdom He created, and encourages us to learn to heal people. There is a concept in propaganda called "The Big Lie". The Big Lie is a lie told so boldly and with such confidence that no one could doubt the liar to be so bold as to tell it. It is a lie told so often that people begin to believe it... even the person being lied about. A Christian should look with skepticism and be wary of anything that hints of New Age spirituality or witchcraft. But the truth is that the vast majority of herbal books have been written by orthodox and devout Christians of various denominations; and the history of Herbal Medicine should be proudly Christian. As Christians, it is our duty to oppose lies, as Satan is the "Father of Lies". We should not only study and practice Herbal Medicine, but we should do so with boldness, taking back what is both right and rightfully ours.
I believe this book will fill an important role in both Herbal Medicine and in understanding Christian history in its influence on culture, education and medicine. It is my sincere hope and prayer that each person who reads this book will take it as a starting place. My wish is that you will begin to learn about and use Herbal Medicine for your own health and for your family. I hope, that as Fr. Kneipp urged, each home will have a small apothecary of herbs in the kitchen. My vision is one of millions of people simply using the herbs God gave us and sharing this knowledge with others. I would love to see thousands of books written by Christian herbalists in the decades to come.
As the Book of Hosea states, "My people perish for lack of knowledge." Let this humble work begin your own herbal journey. Be not afraid and live boldly in the truth... "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free"
Christian Herbal Medicine, History and Practice by Judson Carroll is now available as through Amazon:
Agreed. It is time for Christians to reclaim our languishing heritage: creation itself is a gift given to us by the Living God.
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