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The True Beauty of Herbs by Jaye Levitsky

For many people, the term herbs conjures up very specific impressions, most of which involve stimulating the senses. Some view herbs as aromatics used to restore calmness, achieve clarity or engage another emotion and others use herbs as a garnish or ingredient to enhance flavor. And while these impressions have merit, each fail to fully embody the true quintessence of this plant source.

The plain truth is that herbs are actually food. Yes, food. And since the body should ingest a wide variety of different foods for optimum health, herbs can be a useful way to do so.

The study of herbs stretches across every corner of the world and has been put to use by all the great civilizations throughout history, including the Mayans and Incas to those of Egypt, Greece and India. In fact, one of the earliest books on record pertaining to medicinal herbs was written in 2800 BCE by Emperor Shennong.

By AD 60, Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica was written and it circulated for centuries throughout the Middle East and West. In Great Britain during the Middle Ages, monks were busy growing, gathering and using herbs and recording their finding meticulously for generations. Their records serve as some of the earliest known libraries.

Yet, despite herbs long record of use and success throughout the ages, they are not as integrated into our everyday lives as they could be. Rosemary Gladstar, Founder of United Plant Savers, suggests the reason for this trend towards an ever dwindling plant materia medica is due to the fact that the United States does not have a long standing tradition with herbs, which means the marketplace for these types of remedies is limited. Unlike other countries such as India and China where botanicals are a well-established part of their culture, in the United States, there seems to be a reliance on a small number of herbs for treatments of a wide variety of ailments which places an undue strain on a handful of herbs such as slippery elm, ginseng, Echinacea and St. John’s Wort.

What Herbs Can Do For You

Herbs are food, and as such, according to The Center for Building Better Health Naturally, Inc., they can and do address a wide range of physical issues. Along with the obvious nourishing quality of herbs, there are herbs that improve circulation, oxygenate the blood, serve as a digestive aid, correct alkaline/acidic imbalance, balance emotions, cleanse the bowels, correct system trauma, relieve asthma and the list continues. In fact, the notion that there is an herb for everyone is exactly right. The challenge for the average individual then becomes finding exactly which one is the right one.

Note: This article is based on historical observation and historical data pertaining to herbs. It is not intended to substitute medical advice by a licensed physician. No claim as to its usage is intended for the diagnosis, treatment or cure of any disease or condition.

Jaye C. Levitsky holds a Master of Science degree in natural health and is a board certified naturopath. She can be reached at 544-0447 and has an office at Vastu Health at 17 Main St, Warwick. For more information, visit

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