Sacred Plant Medicine: The Wisdom of Native American Herbalism
Stephen Harrod Buhner
Bear and Company (2006)
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (08/10)
Stephen Harrod Buhner is well known in the circles of herbal medicine and well respected for his research at the Foundation for Gaian Studies. His book “Sacred Plant Medicine” is a compilation of information gleaned from Native Americans and their knowledge and use of medicinal herbs.
Buhner’s examination and research brings forth how indigenous peoples are able to communicate with Mother Earth and her properties through spiritual connections. Through this research Buhner is able to present to us healing plants, medicinal uses of the plant, how to prepare the plants for use, and the associated ceremonial fundamentals.
For example, Echinacea has been popularized over the last couple of decades for its healing properties. It has been known to boost the immune system; therefore, used to ward off or kill bacteria. In most cases the users don’t know the exact properties of the herb itself and only use it when they have a cold because it is a popular “natural” modality. Buhner explains that “Echinacea should be taken only for short periods of time and should be disease specific.” He goes on to say that if getting a cold, taking it with licorice and red root is advisable, however, if feeling run down, Echinacea isn’t the answer. He suggests improving the “immune system instead by taking Siberian ginseng for a year…” Using Echinacea for a cold only places a band-aid on the current situation and doesn’t address the compromised immune system which is why the cold was caught in the first place.
Reading “Sacred Plant Medicine” gave me another look at what I knew already but it also gave me more. I now recognize the importance of understanding the cause of the problem and addressing it first. It also gave me the appreciation of the sacredness of plants and the importance to connect with them for ultimate healing. This is a book that connects the body to the plants, an energy that is important if healing ourselves and our plant.