Dispensing with Tradition:
Way back in 2009 I agreed to compile a quick reference guide to herbs used in the Western tradition from an Ayurvedic perspective, little realising how much work this would entail! My co-author, Michelle Boudin, and I (along with other invaluable colleagues) researched and cross referenced and tasted and pondered and indexed and checked and then re-checked and double checked (just in case…) and the end result is ‘Dispensing with Tradition: A Practitioner’s Guide to using Indian and Western Herbs the Ayurvedic Way’.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy all matter is derived from pure consciousness. The amazing natural world gives us herbs, incredible healing plants, which are manifestations of the conscious intelligence of the universe. Prana is the life force, the dynamic manifestation of consciousness and each herb has its own subtle intelligence or unique wisdom and pranic energy or attributes which give it ‘energetic’ effects as well as pharmacological constituents, and its potential ability to heal. Herbs from all over the globe can impart their wisdom or intelligence to us and help balance pranic disturbances that create imbalances and health problems in mind and body, and reconnect or align us with consciousness, and this is the ultimate aim of Ayurveda. They are an extraordinary gift. Whether we are trained in the Western or Eastern tradition we can benefit from the healing ability of the herbs around us and use them to care for ourselves and others.
The purpose of the book is to enable an understanding of the Ayurvedic classification and use of herbs for practitioners employing herbs within the framework of an Ayurvedic approach to treatment. It presumes a prior knowledge of Ayurveda and its terms (although there are glossaries at the back). It consists mainly of a Materia Medica divided loosely in Western and Ayurvedic herbs and indexes of actions and therapeutic uses.
Each herb has its own unique blend of many different attributes. It has myriad chemical constituents and physiological actions; it has its qualities and properties, being for example hot/cold, dry/moist, heavy/light, and with time and experience it is possible to become acquainted with each individual herb almost like a different personality. Taking all this into consideration we can consider a herb as a whole and not assess its healing potential based solely on its ‘active’ constituents or even their quality or qualities (guna). Each short monograph classifies the herbs according to basic traditional Ayurvedic specifications (including their tastes, post digestive effect, energy, guna, which doshas, dhatus and srotas they mainly affect) and according to the Western medical model, their latin name, botanical family, pharmacological constituents, actions and indications.