Embracing The Mystery In Herbal Medicine

There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

This has always been one of my favorite quotes—for me, it is a beautiful reminder that spirit is always present. I consciously pay attention to the mystery and miracles that are so abundant in everyday life, including the miracles in the healing work that I am called to do.

I have humbly discovered in my 25 years of practice that nothing in or about in medicine works automatically, no matter how technologically advanced we become. The Spirit (theology) must embody the mind (mentality), for the mind cannot heal without the spirit, and the spirit employs the mind in the quest to heal.

Herbal Medicine

To the herbalist, healing is an amalgamation of the mystical art form of medicine that engages the heart, together with the scientific aspect of medicine, which engages the mind.  The mind must follow the heart, which is centered in pure Love and seeks Truth in every instance.  The heart cannot serve the mind, but the mind must serve the heart.

Medicine for me is an endless pursuit of pure Love. The deeper I dig for answers and expand the theory and practice of Mederi Medicine, which I refer to as the ETMS (Eclectic Triphasic Medical System), the more the Cosmic God is reveled to me. In my personal theology, this is inclusive of Christ, of Nature, and of the living God that manifests as the selfless love of neighbor we refer to as “agape love.” There is no room for ego or self-promotion, fear, or anything that clouds the process. The ETMS includes the careful study of modern scientific literature. However, it does not sacrifice wisdom for the pursuit of knowledge. Wisdom differs greatly from knowledge. Wisdom begins in faith, is developed through rational understanding and time, and is perfected by the mystical union with God.

To subscribe to an ever advancing, adaptive, comprehensive living and breathing approach to health promotion and disease prevention and treatment, you must first be willing to face and accept the fact there will always be an aspect that is a mystery. For example, we are conditioned to want to know with our mind the precise effects of each herb, nutrient, formula, or drug. But this wanting to “know” with the mind, and to predict exact outcomes, leaves no room for mystery.

The word “mystery” comes from the Greek word mystėrion, and is related to the verb myėrion, which means, “to contemplate.”  A mystery is a reality we encounter, yet which is of such profound depth and meaning that it is, finally, beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Can God be God if He could be totally understood? No! Nor can a single herb, which is a humble expression of God, or perhaps is actually God (being present in Nature), be totally understood.

The influence of the mind wants to categorize herbs as drugs. Because of this, we tend to use the same language for herbs that was designed for drugs. This creates as much trouble as it does benefit in the attempt to explain actions or classifications. We process herbs and combine them into formulas; some used simply in the form of teas, while others are highly concentrated or single constituents are extracted as isolates.  We change formulas based on parameters and lens that are as much objective as subjective.

As an avid researcher with a respect for science as well as an herbalist steeped in the ancient traditions of healing, I acknowledge that even though herbs and the practice of herbal medicine will always be a mystery, we must grow in our understanding of certain aspects of the mystery. I believe it is possible to understand herbal medicine, but with a limited capacity. Because of our modern scientific studies, we can “know” herbs based on the hundreds of compounds and the various physiological pathways they affect. We can be impressed with this scientific knowledge, and use it to better know the herb and apply it medicinally. But this is still an extremely limited understanding of herbal medicine, and although it can be useful, it can also misguide us.

I believe that we must be humble, and allow space for mystery to coexist with scientific knowledge. We have only limited access to the healing potential of herbs if we leave behind the energetic understanding of plants and the traditional uses of herbs. Only a traditionally skilled and trained practitioner of many years that combines a thorough understanding of scientific research, traditional herbal healing, and prayer can unite all of the many facets of healing and medicine and create a harmonious approach that is of the highest benefit.

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