People globally rely on herbal practices as their main form of healing, yet few in the West understand how to properly identify and effectively use herbs. This loss of knowledge regarding traditional healing practices was done so intentionally during enslavement and colonization, resulting in exploitation and misinterpretation of herbal practices. By reclaiming this knowledge, it is not only a way to improve the health of communities and the land, but also a way of reclaiming ancestral traditions and connection with oneself. Furthermore, this research paper explored the complexities of Western herbalism and determined what drives individuals within Rhode Island (RI) to study this ancient healing modality. Interviews were conducted with two herbal educators and two herbal students, teaching and studying through Farmacy Herbs Community Education Center in Providence, RI, respectively. Observational data was collected during the Level I: Herbal Foundations class taught through Farmacy Herbs. Themes that drive herbal studies were created based on interview findings and were informed by prior knowledge from observational research and literature review findings. Quotes from interviews were provided as supporting evidence for presented themes. Results showed ten themes motivating individuals to study Western herbalism within RI, including reclaiming ancestral traditions, health empowerment, connecting with nature, preventative health, community building, caring for loved ones, correcting misconceptions in mainstream media, increasing physical accessibility of herbs and herbal education, strengthening connection to oneself, and social justice.
Branden Lewis, PhD, MBA
MS - Food Innovation and Technology
Shea, Kyla, "Western Herbalism: What Drives Individuals Within Rhode Island to Study This Ancient Healing Modality?" (2023). Student Research Design & Innovation Symposium. 78.