The history of herbal medicine in western culture is beautifully documented in Barbara Griggs' Green Pharmacy, first published in 1981 and recently revised in a new 1997 edition. Griggs traces herbs in medicine from antiquity to the present in a passionate historical narrative. She has graciously consented to our reprinting of the chapter on the "Quack's Charter," aka the "Herbalist's Charter." signed into law by England's King Henry VIII to ensure the fight of herbalists to practice the healing arts in the face of mounting monopolistic attempts by other practitioners of the times. The Herbalist's Charter today constitutes an important element in British common law, and has resulted in the flourishing of "medical herbalists" in the UK, Canada and Australia -- herbalists who have graduated from a four-year post graduate school (National Institute of Medical Herbalism) and enjoy a quasi-official legal status.
We also present a detailed and masterful account of the history of botanical medicine in the naturopathic medical movement in the U.S. Enjoying a significant resurgence today with increased consumer interest in natural health, naturopathic history includes elements of Eclectic medicine and other medical sects of the 1800s that relied extensively on herbal medicines, whole foods, and hygienic practices. Francis Brinker, the author of this article, is himself a graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of several books and monographs on herbs and phytotherapy.
Herbs have enjoyed a rich tradition as the foundation of medicine, pharmacy, and folk medicine. We regret that space limitations do not allow us to include more about this noble history. Hopefully, we will revisit this topic in future issues.