New Age herbal medicine
includes such things as botanotherapy, phytotherapy, aromatherapy,
Herbal medicine is the use of
herbs and other plant products to allegedly help cure a wide
variety of physical ailments, or the use of "spiritually potentized"
herbs and plants for physical or psychic healing and/or other occult
pursuits – as in the Bach Flower Remedies, Vita Florum, aromatherapy,
and similar practices. Particular herbs, plants, or flowers are believed
to possess physical or spiritual healing properties. Roots, leaves,
stems, plants, seeds, etc., are prepared in various ways, sometimes
through psychic methods, and either consumed orally as medicine or used
on the skin as ointment.
Some herbs and plants do
contain medicinal properties and in extracted or synthetic forms are
used in modern health care and medical treatment. The scientific
discipline known as pharmacognosy is a legitimate and important field,
but extensive scientific research is required to separate the wheat from
the chaff. Unfortunately, New Age herbalism largely ignores scientific
concerns and pursues its own methods and interests.
For example, New Age herbal
medicine may incorporate practices such as developing altered states of
consciousness and spirit contact through use of hallucinogenic plants
(as in many forms of shamanism) or practicing psychic healing through
regulating a supposed occult power latent within plants and herbs.
New Age herbal medicine is
largely, if not exclusively, a combination of questionable commercialism
and wishful thinking based on ignorance (cf. V.E. Tyler, The Honest
Herbal). Many commonly sold herbal remedies, even some herbal
teas, are potentially harmful by themselves or through allergic
reactions or synergism. Some remedies contain plant products that are
carcinogenic and others are labeled or found to be contaminated with
insect parts. Further, using ineffective or dangerous treatments may
delay or otherwise acerbate serious illness, and one may also encounter
other occult influences through New Age herbalism.