A brief introduction

Herbalism is the use of plant material, such as leaves, flowers, seeds, bark, or roots, to support the healing and wellness of the body.  The practice of herbalism has a rich history that is well varied, globally diverse, and “braided into the histories of peoples and civilizations for countless thousands of years” (Dufault et al., 2000).  Herbalism extends beyond the simple act of using a plant to alleviate suffering, it captures all the experience and wisdom born from the relationship between humanity and plants (Hoffman, 2003).   One important role of herbalists in communities, around the world and throughout history, has been to facilitate the relationship between each culture and its surrounding plant environment or bioregion.    

Herbalism today is experiencing a type of renaissance in the re-emergence of “holistic health”.  Holistic health begins with the assumption that human health should be defined beyond a set of disease symptoms, it is instead a multifaceted landscape made up of a person’s “complete physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing” (WHO, 1946).  The use of herbal medicines is now widely embraced in many industrialized nations.  Many people are turning to herbal medicine with a desire to improve their health without the use of surgery and the high cost and side effects of most modern drugs (Ekor, 2013).  Herbalism requires an understanding of both integrative health and plant science.  It can be as simple as picking lavender from a garden, and as complex as the biochemical interactions between phytochemicals and human metabolisms (Hoffman, 2003).  The Klamath-Siskiyou Herbal attempts to add another intersectionality to the definition of holistic health.  It sees the intentional connection with the evolving ecological and social history around us as a crucial aspect of health.  While bioregional enthusiasts would argue that this act alone is healing, this project will go beyond this by connecting people with plants that can literally help their physical bodies heal while teaching them about nature, and themselves.