Mar 25 2008
Everyone owes a great debt to those men and women who began natural healing. They did the original work in their own way of observation and testing to locate those herbs they needed to save the lives of their tribal family. All natural healers, even modern medicine, are standing on the shoulders of those courageous individuals, and untold thousands owe their lives to them. The majority of people worldwide assume that America has no named herbal tradition, that the only major herbal traditions of the world are Chinese Herbalism, Ayurvedic Herbalism (from India), and Homeopaths of Europe. Contrary to that belief, here in America our herbal medicine tradition began with the Native American Healers of the different tribes.
These Native American healers held a distinctive respected leadership position within the tribal society. They employed a combination of natural herbal treatments and spiritual ceremonies that were supported by everyone in the tribe. True natural healers today employ some of these same philosophical beliefs and techniques.
When the European settlers came to these lands, many herbalists, botanists, and healers came with them. Of these, a group called the Eclectic Physicians were the first to approach the Native Healers to learn their herbal philosophies and the plants they used. The best known of the Eclectic’s healers is the same man to coin the term “Eclectic Physician.” His name was Constantine Samuel Rafinesque. To him, the term meant to use whatever worked to the benefit of the patient, or to bring them into alignment with nature. Being passionate about his craft, he moved in with the Native Americans to observe their techniques and plants.
The next step in this American herbal tradition came with the great healer Dr. Samuel Thompson (1769-1843). It was Thompson who acquired a broad knowledge of herbs and healing through his personal experience. His mother had died and his wife was nearly killed by the regular physicians (who became the Aellopaths of today). Thompson saved her using herbal medical techniques. From this experience he brought together the Native American and European philosophies and herbs to form Thompsonian Herbalism. Thompson became a very popular herbalist in the 1840′s and it is estimated that a full one fifth of the population of America used Thompsonian Herbalism to treat their diseases. His success was so great that many doctors and herbalists began calling themselves Thompsonians. These Thompsonian herbalists did not want to associate themselves with the “regular” physicians of their time who used drastic, toxic, and sometimes deadly techniques, much like today’s medical disaster.
Thompson believed what the father of medicine believed, that disease was really simple and theories made a needless mystery of medicine. He further believed that the mystery of medicine prevented ordinary people from taking responsibility for their own health. This confusion exists today and separates people from truly curing any disease. This is why modern medicine has outlawed the use of the word cure while looking for cures that they have never found and never will find.
In 1822, ten years into his successful practice Thompson wrote a book titled “New Guide to Health; or Botanic Family Physician.” Then Thompson began selling patents from his system of healing so that any American family could, for $20, solve their own disease problems. These patent holders were able to turn to Thompson’s herbal warehouse to purchase the formulas and, with a copy of his book, apply the successful herbal techniques. It was not long before this system began to be picked up in Europe where some of it’s original roots were located.
In America, this time of Thompsonian herbalism was a time of freedom of medical treatment which we miss today. Today, Thompson’s democratic approach to healing is finding a resurgence in America and across the world. If you do not want an aellopathic doctor involved in your health, that should be your choice, it is your life. If you paid for insurance it should be your choice to pick the treatment you want, whether that treatment is pharmaceutical drugs or herbal techniques. If it is herbal techniques you want, the Naturopathic Doctor you choose should be from the belief system of your choice not chosen by some state licensing committee.
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