People globally rely on herbal practices as their main form of healing, yet few people 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 it is also a way of reclaiming ancestral traditions and connection with oneself. Furthermore, this research paper explores the complexities of Western herbalism and determines what drives individuals within Rhode Island (RI) to study this ancient healing modality. Interviews were conducted on 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 but 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. This study was limited to herbal educators and students within RI, and the project was completed within one semester which left minimal time to conduct interviews and analyze data. 3 These findings can be used in future research when tailoring content to raise awareness of, and further spread, this healing modality. Another area for future research includes using the framework of Complex Systems Science to research the efficacy of herbal medicine, giving special consideration to the profoundness of natural phenomena, processes, and designs. There is great potential for exploration in the field of Western herbalism, and the findings of this research paper provide a solid beginning for that exploration.
Shea, Kyla, "Western herbalism: What drives individuals within Rhode Island to study this ancient healing modality?" (2022). Student Publications. 5.