How does a modern-day herbalist balance traditional knowledge with more recently gained scientific knowledge?

We just work with both types of knowledge coherently. For instance, if you read old herbals, you might hypothetically find something like, "This yellow flower is good for when you have pain here on the side…." Today we now know that "the side" is actually the liver. So now more and more we are making links with what scientists are finding and we are explaining things better, and we can extrapolate in a certain way. However, we're still using a lot of remedies that are not explained and that science has not yet turned its eye to. We just work with them anyway because they have worked for a long time. St. John's wort for depression is not new. It wasn't called depression before, it might have been called melancholy, or people being possessed by demons. That's what it was called, but it's the same thing. So modern herbalists make bridges, we learn new things, we explain new things.

The part that is the most difficult, for me and for us generally as herbalists, is trying to defend treatment approaches that have not been proven under the microscope (in the reductionist model) but that have plenty of anecdotal and empirical evidence suggesting that they can indeed be effective. How many anecdotes does it take before scientists will accept that something works? So that's the line that we've been dancing a lot. And because of the new regulations in our field, all the intuition that comes into play when we match people with plants is going to be harder and harder to do, because the conventional medical model of treatment that is supported by both the financial and the governmental aspects of our society is largely at odds with the way we work.
Coalition of Canadian Healthcare Museums and Archives

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