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Master Herbalism Tradition

Master Herbalism tradition is based on Dr. John Ray Christopher (1909-1983) achievements as a herbalist, lecturer and teacher. His reputation was built thanks to results obtained by focusing on cleansing and nourishing the body with natural protocols like herbs, a plant-based diet, hydration, exercise, sun and breathing. He was also interested in the spiritual and emotional sides of the patient as part of the healing process.

He founded the The School of Natural Healing in 1979, and later other herbal schools in Ireland and England. He was also a founding member of the American Herbalist Guild. He owned Christopher publications and written many books, the most valuable book as a herbal reference is the “School of Natural Healing”. His son David W. Christopher has took in charge of his legacy and the tradition is continuing to be transmitted.

Herbal Master tradition is rooted in physiomedicalist principles, a natural medicine system developed in early 19th century by Samuel Thomson. Thomsonian medicine born as a result of the mechanical view of human health and anatomy that conventional medical doctors adopted, the physical body can be measured, weighted and analysed. The treatments used were bloodlettin, and the administration of mercury, arsenic. Thomson brought a different perspective of medical therapeutics because he believed that the nature of life and body, the living and the nonliving were both made of matter with an immaterial vital principle called anima. Anima was described as ‘an infinite portion of the universal spirit that actuates all creation’ (Metcalfe, 1859). Physimedicalist called it later ‘vital force’.

He also believed that slickness was caused by cold, and that heat was synonymous of life and vitality. The core based of the treatment was the stomach care, food as nourishment and elimination of waste. He promoted fever as a method to clean the body from disease by using diaphoretic and sudorific herbs and vapor baths.

The physiomedicalist improved Thomsonian’s approach and applied inside of a clinical setup. They believe that the heat was synonym of what they called “vital force”. Then, medication was recommended to enhance vital force in the patient instead of diminished by contrasting the effects of mercury administration at that time. The treatment was herbs to restore and maintain vital force mainly based on today’s adaptogens. In this way, by administering herbs for health restoration, the body will promote health increasing elimination of toxins and enhancing the assimilation of nutrients.

The physiomedicalism tradition and the vitalistic approach of health and life still alive in the Western medical practitioners.


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