The healing properties of plants


During Herb Week May 1-7, local herbalists may be seen at malls, health food stores, libraries and other public areas in your neighborhood.

herb flower

British Columbia is fast becoming Canada’s capital in complimentary and alternative medicine. The face of modern healthcare is changing and the Canadian Herbalist’s Association of BC (CHA of BC, is at the forefront in promoting safe and effective healthcare. Since the association was founded in 1973, it has been quietly tending the needs of professional herbal therapists in BC.

To qualify for therapist status, the CHA of BC has established minimum educational standards in all the health sciences, the herbal pharmacopoeia and supervised clinical practicum. Registered herbal therapists abide by the Code of Ethical Conduct and have achieved core competencies that support the primary principle of practice: “First Do No Harm.” In addition to the professional membership, CHA of BC has different categories of membership for herb growers, manufacturers and other interested support parties. For more details, please visit the CHA of BC website.

In recent years, herbal therapy has seen a surge; consequently, our activities for creating public awareness have also increased. As part of that drive, the CHA of BC have designated the first week of every May “Herb Week.”

Herbalism, also known as phytotherapy, is the use of plants to treat common ailments and promote wellness. It is the oldest form of medicinal healing known to man. Although it is classified as an alternative therapy, it is the most widely practiced form of medicine used worldwide, with over 80 percent of the world’s population relying on herbs for health. Currently, over 50 percent of all new pharmaceutical prescriptions contain at least one ingredient either produced directly from plants or discovered from plant sources and later synthesized. Modern medicine draws its origins from early herbal therapies. Until the advent of synthetic medicine within the past 50 to 100 years, all medical doctors prescribed herbs routinely.

In the Western World, and especially here is Canada, the use of herbs and natural products has seen an unprecedented increase, with sales of herbal products soaring and enrolment at herbal colleges growing steadily.

Herbal medicine uses plants that do not have the aggressive and invasive action of modern drugs, but instead support the body’s own natural tendency to heal itself. Herbal products are derived from roots, stems, flowers or leaves of plants and are frequently sold in liquid extracts, capsules, tablets or teas. Herbalists prefer to use remedies extracted from a part of the whole plant, with all its bio-chemical constituents, rather than individual standardized extracts. It is believed that the active constituents are naturally balanced within the plant and consequently aid in working on the body, mind and spirit in a less invasive manner.

From a holistic standpoint, a person is not a patient with a disease syndrome, but a whole being. This wholeness necessitates that the therapist appreciates the mental, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental aspects of their patients’ lives, as well as the physical.

From May 1 to 7, local herbalists may be active at malls, health food stores, libraries and other public areas in your neighborhood. Information and events will also be featured in various media platforms. Please visit CHA of BC website for information on events in your area.

Come out and meet some professional herbal therapists. Learn how herbal medicine may enhance your health, how to integrate herbal medicine into your life preventatively, how herbal medicine may help address many health concerns and the differences between a naturopath and a registered herbal therapist. During this week, we want to provide the opportunity for you to learn about herbal therapy, as a valuable option for healing. And if your health has improved as a result of an herbal therapist, we would love to hear your story.

Our aim is to demonstrate, in practical terms, what we, as herbal therapists, do. Each therapist has his or her own holistic approach to therapy. However, the common thread is how they address the underlying cause of conditions. Therapy may involve tailor-made herbal remedies, nutrition, natural supplements, advice on lifestyle habits and other modalities, if necessary, all of which are periodically reviewed and reassessed. The aim is to keep the mind and the body in a healthy balance for the long term.