Yesterday, I was reading Culpeppers herbal reference book and I came across his description of the herb Motherwort:
There is no better herb to take melancholy vapours from the heart, to strengthen it, and make it a merry, cheerful, blithe soul than this herb. ... Besides, it makes women joyful mothers of children, and settles their wombs, as they should be, therefore we call it Motherwort. It is held to be much use for the trembling of the heart, and faintings and swoonings, from whence it took the name Cardiaca.
The powder thereof, to the quantity of a spoonful, drink in wine, is a wonderful help to women in their sore travail, as also for the suffocating or risings of the mother, and for these effects, it is likely it took the name Motherwort with us....
I was stunned by this simple description, as I often am by Culpepper, his seamless jumps from physical to mental and emotional aspects of the actions of herbs is an art that has been forgotten in the scrabble to 'explain' what the herbs do in terms of their chemical constituents. We have become too accustomed to treating the physical and emotional aspects of our health as two completely separate things. Is this to do with the separation of the religion with medicine? Can the two really be separated?
I do understand that we have to have some explanations, today we compare herbs with medical drugs more and more in a bid to identify their actions. But we should not loose sight that the actions of the herbs are more than just physical. Going back to the traditional herbal textbooks and the original art of medicine, where mental and physical health is inseparable, is a good place to start.