The Aboriginal Medicine Wheel of Healing, believed to be 5500 years old, is a simple circle divided into four equal parts addressing human existence: four cardinal points, four animals key to Aboriginal culture, four seasons and four sacred plants used by Aboriginal Healers. The basic idea is that a person’s entire being could be healed through the spiritual and the physical. An article I came across recently highlighted some «sacred plants» and their healing powers, among them sage, sweetgrass, cedar, and over 400 other distinct species, many found here in Canada, and all with therapeutic properties used by Indigenous people in Canada as «traditional medicine».
The use of medicinal plants has been part of our healing traditions since the very beginning of human existence and movements in populations. One example here in Quebec tells how French explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew became ill with scurvy through a harsh winter in 1536 in what Quebec City is now. Cartier’s life, and that of his crew, would be saved by the Indigenous people using a local coniferous tree and told them how to prepare it as medicine, and Cartier later baptised it the «tree of life». Similarly, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass are just some of the plants represented in the Medicine Wheel and are still used to treat ailments from skin irritations to respiratory conditions, while cedar is thought to soothe aches and pains resulting from arthritis and rheumatism. In fact, cedar’s remarkably high Vitamin C content may have helped cure Jacques Cartier and his crew thanks to the herbal medicine knowhow of the Iroquois Nation of Eastern Canada, who showed the explorer how to make a white cedar tea.
We at Boiron use (have) the same great reverence and respect for the medicinal plants used in our own manufacturing process. Want two examples? Arnica Montana flowers and Calendula flowers: both extensively used in our Arnicare and Calendula lines for the relief of joint and muscle pain are prepared adhering to strict protocols from harvesting the plants, processing, and onto the best manufacturing processes as they become the medicines our clients have come to trust, from generation to generation.
Recently it has become almost conventional to disparage homeopathic medicines, this, despite over 200 years of observational and clinical studies of the highest degree, many forgetting that most western medicines are, in fact, plant-based molecules. The most famous example being aspirin, created from a salicylic acid made from the willow plant.
As many herbal medicines strains are being rediscovered for their healing and good-health properties, and as more medicinal plants used by the Indigenous peoples in Canada are adopted more widely and even incorporated into western medicine, now may be a suitable time to continue the discussion not on opposing one medical approach versus the other (conventional versus traditional), but on the beneficial communal support traditional medicines may offer in a patient’s quest to better health.
President & CEO