I wanted to share with you all today, a Cherokee story of how medicine came to be. This is, of course, a story told within the context of oral tradition. Also keep in mind, that the foundation of the pharmaceutical industry is thoroughly rooted in plant medicines. That is, the drug trade came to be, from researchers isolating and then synthesizing artificial medicines from known herbal remedies, in order to have cures that could be patented for profit. After all, you cannot patent life, or a naturally occurring resource. Or at least you couldn’t back then.
The rivalry between herbal remedies and artificial drugs is an old one, with the drug companies throwing the first stones in an effort to marginalize herbal and holistic medicine in order to bolster their own trade. Their campaign to marginalize and discredit herbal and holistic healing has certainly been effective. Today, nine out of ten people think herbal medicine is akin to seeking answers from a crystal ball. Though, a little unbiased research certainly proves the validity of herbal medicine. So which way is better? Drugs certainly do the job, but are quite often SWIMMING with unintentional side effects leaving the body damaged in other ways, or just in strung out shape. Herbal remedies are certainly more gentle on the body as they are more easily metabolized with fewer side effects, but they generally take more time to do the job. The subject is still hotly debated, for sure. “Westernized” medicine as it has come to be known, certainly has its relevance in the healing realm, but we must not forget the old ways or our plant kingdom relatives. I first came across this story in my studies with indigenous healers on one of America’s many first nations reservations, but came across it again in a great herbal remedy book “The Herbal Home Remedy Book” by Joyce A. Wardwell (click the image to read more)
This has become one of my favorite herbal books that I’ve come across over the years. I really appreciate it not just because it gives good herbal advice, but because the author takes a very down-to-earth approach. Highlighted with tribal tales and wonderful stories steeped within oral tradition, not only is this book informative, but it’s fun to read. The following story, at least for me, is a really touching reminder to be thankful for that which the Earth provides and to treat all beings, including plants, with respect. Ask permission before you take. Give thanks if you do. Never take more than you need….. The Rule of Thirds is a great way to respect our plant relatives as well as our balance with the surrounding environment. That is: Leave 1/3rd for the plant, 1/3rd for the animals, and only take 1/3rd for yourself. And if there is not enough to go around, don’t take it.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful tale. If you do, and resonate with its message, I encourage you to pick up Joyce Wardwell’s book and read the other stories she provides; as well as her herbal knowledge. 🙂
Thanks for reading!
~Steve & Ashley~
How We Got Medicine – a Cherokee story retold by Joyce A. Wardwell
*This story belongs to the Cherokee people. It was first recorded by James Mooney in 1890 in The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees.