What is Western Herbalism?

Western herbal medicine has been used for centuries to treat nearly every type of illness, and has its roots in Native American usage of medicinal plants. This knowledge and history of plant medicine is thousands of years old. Plant knowledge from other countries has also been woven into the body of knowledge used in western herbalism. 

Western herbalism primarily utilizes plants native to North America. Originally, the term "herb" only applied to non-woody plants. Today, "herb" refers to any part of any plant used for flavoring or medicine. Although the term "herb" can also be equated with food spices, it is generally used in reference to any plant, or any part of a plant, having nutritional and / or medicinal value(s). Additionally, an "herb" may be a fruit, a bark, a flower, a leaf, or a root, as well as anon-woody plant. 

Herbal preparations may be prescribed for ingestion as teas, as capsules or tablets, or as extracts or tinctures. Herbs may also be prepared as essential oils to be used topically, as are herbal preparations made into salves, balms, or ointments.

Herbalism uses plants to help a person achieve and maintain balance. Mind, body and spirit are inseparable, and each person is viewed as a whole being, in order for true healing to happen. Healing does not always mean cure either. What is healing, or achieving balance, for one person may look very different for the next person. Herbs can serve in many ways: they aid in healing from surgery, help the body to rebuild the blood and immunity, help with the nerve damage, clear the toxins out of the body, aid in alleviating nausea and getting the entire digestive system back in working order. In addition, herbs can heal on an emotional level, such as when facing a serious illness can often bring up many issues and emotions. 

Different herb systems use different ways of classifying herbs. See the Forty Herbal Actions table for a look at how forty common herbs are classified with an example of each. 

Although considered a natural therapy, some herbal remedies have the potential to cause adverse drug interactions when used in combination with various prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Be sure to let Dr. Lipelt know all medicines you are currently taking. 

Currently, Stillpoint Permaculture Center grows the following herbs:

  • Six varieties of sage
  • Rosemary
  • Dang Qui
  • Echinacea
  • Chaste tree
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mallow
  • Fennel
  • Curry
  • Mint
  • Rosehips
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat

Revival interest in herbal medicine is a worldwide phenomenon.
— Mark Blumenthal

Dr. Michael Lipelt, founder and practitioner at Stillpoint Family Health Services received a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle, WA in 1989 where he received training in western herbs, one of the tools of Naturopathy. He received his Naturopathic Medical License for the state of Hawaii in 1990 and his Naturopathic Medical License for the State of California in 2004. Note that in 2003 the California Naturopathic Doctors’ Act was passed that permits a Naturopathic doctor to diagnose and treat disease, similar to an MD. Dr. Lipelt has practiced naturopathy now for over 20 years.