As a Master Herbalist, I spend a lot of time reading medical news and talking to others in the various medical specialties, from orthodox to herbal remedies. The most exciting thing I see is a gradual acceptance that there may be more to alternative remedies than doctors and authorities wanted to believe.
Aromatherapy: This is not yet my area of specialty, but I’ve found that the idea is sound. If you think about it, certain aromas can cause changes in how you feel, and not always in your mood. A scent of roses may cause you to think of romance. The smell of a good steak grilling may make your mouth water. These are physical actions caused by what you smell.
I’ve played around with a couple of essential oils, and while for me the evidence is empirical, they do seem to work. When I smell peppermint, my mind becomes clearer and I can think better. When I smell lavender, it’s easier to relax, I can feel tension leaving my mind.
Herbalists have their own sort of aromatherapy. Hop pillows are given to clients who have a difficult time falling or staying asleep at night. Most report that it does work.
Most of this shouldn’t be a surprise to science. The olfactory nerve is hard wired straight to the brain and is extremely short. Why wouldn’t aromas have an effect?
Herbal Medicine: I am delighted each time a study comes out that backs this or that herb. Most of these studies are still considered preliminary, and the FDA has only backed one…oats, but I think more is coming. I think cinnamon will, in the next ten years, become as much a treatment for type 2 diabetes as other prescription medications.
Garlic and saw palmetto are also beginning to be embraced by the medical community. I’m hopeful that many more herbs are tested and what they can do proved. I believe it will happen. Oh, there will be a few that are considered duds, but that’s so with any medication.
Rainforest Medicine: Actually, I’m thinking of all the cultures we’ve more or less ignored medically. China and India have had a medical “system” that go back thousands of years. While we don’t have a lot of data on the South American or African plants and medical systems, what we’re learning is beginning to pay off well. In the next ten years, who knows? A plant or two from one of these more or less medically neglected areas could provide a cure for cancer and the common cold.
One thing that is already beginning to happen is called complementary medicine. Respected schools, such as the University of Maryland, have set up their medical school to use and experiment with all kinds of alternative therapies. The doctors work alongside the herbalists and other specialists, sharing knowledge and giving each patient excellent medical care. My dream for the next ten years is that all doctors have team members from the alternative fields. Working together, we can give each patient the best chance they have for good health and a long life.