In the Beginning
Western health, or medicine, began with Hippocrates who was a physician during Greece’s Golden Age. His beliefs were based in science and the natural healing process. Hippocrates believed that the role of a physician was to help the healing process along and to not, necessarily, take it over. His doctrine continued for 2,300 years until the 1900s.
Galen, another Greek physician came after Hippocrates and pioneered diagnosis, which lead to the classification of illnesses, as they are today.
During the Dark Ages natural healing was in favour for a while when the Arabs brought alchemy and pharmacy into the mix. Apothecaries (herbal pharmacies) were common during the 12th Century.
During the 16th Century Paracelsus began the distillation of isolates and both the alchemists of that time and chemists of modern day, believe that these chemicals are stronger and more effective than the entire plant, whist still being safe. Isolates are popular with the big pharmaceutical companies of today because they can be patented and rigorously controlled. Isolates are useful, as are herbal remedies and both can save lives.
The 17th Century brought a man called Nicholas Culpepper who created a handbook called The English Physician and people once again swung back to herbal healing for a time.
In America and Europe in the 1800s medical schools taught prescription medicine exclusively, as herbal healing was seen as old fashioned. Although country folk still relied on herbs for their well being.
The American Medical Association was formed in 1847 with a renewed interest in herbal medicine. However, the AMA soon became underwritten by the big pharmaceutical companies, turning their backs on the plant world and looking to synthetic chemicals for modern medicine.
By the 20th Century the AMA ruled and synthetic chemicals boomed. By the 1950s people did not look to diet or lifestyle when they became ill, they simply took a pill.
Thankfully, things are a little more balanced in our time. People now realise the benefits of combining modern medicine with holistic and alternative methods of treatment and healing.