Herbal medicine is an essential part of the human story, and may be key to our ongoing health and wellbeing as a species. In this important interview, Ann Armbrecht, the author of The Business of Botanicals: Exploring the Healing Promise of Plant Medicines in a Global Industry (Chelsea Green Publishing, February 2021), discusses the global herbal medicine industry, supply chains, challenges, shortcomings, needs, and opportunities to become a much stronger exemplar of social and environmental sustainability and stewardship.
She shares her own intimate experience with the plant world, including how cultivating a relationship of reciprocity with healing plants may be essential for insights and understandings that modern western science may not on its own provide. Recognizing the deep heritage of indigenous and traditional life-ways and relationships with healing plants, as well as the knowledge made available through modern science, Ann describes an experience of “seeing double” – perceiving both the “visible” and the “invisible” realities embodied by our plant and tree cousins – and suggests that not “seeing double” makes us selfish. She encourages us to cultivate curiosity, connection, intention, and an ethos of reciprocity in our own relationships with healing plants, and discusses the “healing green energy of nature” that Hildegard von Bingen called “Viriditas” a thousand years ago. Gardens, Ann suggests, can awaken us to the lost art of “seeing”.
In the book, Ann shares insights and learnings from renown herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, and discusses herbal medicine companies such as Aveeno, Herb Farm (which has earned the Regenerative Organic Certification), and others. With such favorites as motherwort, black cohosh, lemon balm, calendula, and nettles, Ann reveals some of her own personal story while expertly reporting on the state of the global herbal medicine industry.
Ann Armbrecht is the director of the Sustainable Herbs Program under the auspices of the American Botanical Council. She is a writer and anthropologist (PhD, Harvard 1995) whose work explores the relationships between humans and the earth, most recently through her work with plants and plant medicine. She is the co-producer of the documentary Numen: The Nature of Plants and the author of the award-winning ethnographic memoir Thin Places: A Pilgrimage Home, based on her research in Nepal. Her latest book is The Business of Botanicals: Exploring the Healing Promise of Plant Medicines in a Global Industry (Chelsea Green Publishing, February 2021). She lives with her family in central Vermont.
Author Website: http://annarmbrecht.com/
Organization Website: https://sustainableherbsprogram.org/
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