To Herb or Not to Herb? That is the Question
Updated: Mar 19
By Dr. Laralyn RiverWind (assisted by Chief Joseph RiverWind)
“And אלהים said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’” ~ Genesis 1:29
Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I like to think he was rewording the Genesis 1 Scripture above. In the Garden of Eden world, there was no need for medicine. The only things that man and animal took by mouth was produced by plants. Until Eve (accompanied in the meal by Adam) had that one forbidden, off-menu snack, topped of course with the whipped cream of rebellion… Hop into my flux-capacitor-equipped Delorean and fast forward a bit in our time machine.
Here we are 2018 - strike that - 2019 already. We are at an interesting juncture in time in which people are realizing that pharmaceutical medications are not all they are cracked up to be. As we sped past the last few centuries in our time travel, we observed public opinion go from witch hunts for herbalists… to hanging snake oil salesmen… to buying into the modern day alchemists’ pharmaceutical stocks for whatever that last commercial drug was that listed thirty full seconds of side effects on prime time television…
... to beginning to wonder if maybe Granny didn’t know what she was talking about afterwards went she made those onion poultices for spider bites and put her wad of chewin’ tobacco on your bee sting (back when there were enough bees to run into).
Did you know that the word pharmacy comes from the Greek word “pharmakeia" and is translated as “witchraft” or “sorcery?” It is found in Galatians 5:19-21 listed among the sins that will keep you from inheriting the Kingdom of God. A little scary? Perhaps.
Now Believers are asking themselves a question. Are the use of herbs, salves, or essential oils pagan practices that should be avoided by Christians?
Let’s start here: Pagans also eat. Shall we stop eating? Perhaps you may have seen a pagan drinking coffee at a coffee shop. Should you stop drinking coffee? Heaven forbid! But what about herbal teas? Why would an herbal tea be different? It’s also a ground up plant material that is made into a drink.
It is inevitable that once you being to research holistic medicine pagan practices, traditions and customs are going to start popping up everywhere you look. From incantations to how to gather a plant while performing an ancient ritual the amount of paganism tied to herbal medicine abounds. Although Jeremiah 10 warns us to not learn the ways of the heathen this is talking about practices that had to do with god and goddess worship. While it is true that many ancient pagan cultures used herbs in their religious ceremonies and spiritual traditions this doesn’t mean that the plant, tree or medicine made from those elements that The Creator made are pagan.
A stereotypical misconception about First Nations people is the Medicine Man or Medicine Woman being a type of shaman. This is the farthest things from the truth. If you suddenly came down with a fever, got bitten by a snake, or needed something the help with the pain of arthritis you would go to the Medicine Man or Medicine Woman who was the tribes expert herbalist. They knew the plant medicines, how to make teas, salves or poultices to help cure whatever was ailing you.
We must learn to separate what man has done to corrupt these things made by The Creator for our use, health and benefit. I say let’s not give the enemy any ground. Modern day use of herbs and natural medicine is still overwhelmingly practiced by people who are into practices such as Wicca, modern day paganism, atheist, earth worshippers and many other occult religions. It is safe to say that to be a Christian and an herbalist is rare thing in the modern world but this is beginning to change as more people are turning first to prayer and then to what Creator has made for the well being of our health and taking care of our temple (body).
It is not a sin to use what Creator has made! Can Trickster take any credit for the creation of the medicinal values found growing from the earth? Of course not! Even the pharmaceutical industry uses plant based medicine for many of their products and there has been an explosive growth in the natural medicine market. According to a Journal of Natural Products report around 70 percent of all new drugs introduced in the United States in the past 25 years have been derived from natural products.
A recent medical study revealed: “Because of this [the growing interest in natural plant medicines], in the last three decades, natural drugs and their products have represented approximately 50% of all treatments that have come to market (Newman and Cragg, 2016).”
Some would speculate that the longevity of man up until the flood was because of the rich medicinal properties found in the vegetation and food that was eaten. Did the catastrophic flood wipe out many of those ancient and potent plants so that what we have now is only a shadow of what used to be? Perhaps.
But we see herbal medicine being used in Scripture and it had nothing to do with witchcraft or pagan practices. One example is in the Book of Luke. Luke was a physician during the 1st Century and by todays standards, would have probably been called a Naturopath.
“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” ~ Luke 10:34
In this parable we hear Yeshua describing the proverbial good Samaritan using oil and wine to bind up a wound. More than likely the oil would have been made from olives which has copious amounts of vitamin E (skin health) and polyphenols (anti-oxidant healing properties). The olive oil is bacteriostatic and its application would prevent the growth of aerobic bacteria that could have caused infections. The wine is bactericidal (kills bacteria) and was commonly used for would cleansing by warriors in ancient times. Modern allopathic standard of care would not recommend oil and wine treatment of wounds but in ancient Biblical times, the Food and Drug Administration somehow held less sway.
In the Old Testament we find several uses of herbal medicine and in some cases we know there is herbal medicine used in the Kingdom Age to come when we have a new heaven and a new earth. In the following verses we see balms, ointments, and pastes used as medicines (Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11, 51:8; Isaiah 1:6, 38:21).
In Revelation, John describes a tree whose leaves are used for the healing of the nations. This was a vision. We don’t know if these leaves are for physical, emotional or spiritual healing but we know that they will be there for healing purposes.
“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” ~ Revelation 22:2
It is safe to say that herbal medicine can be found in Scripture - in some cases even instructed by Creator to be used for healing. It is also safe to say that the use of herbs is not a sin as long as we don’t attach any type of pagan practice or ceremony to using, harvesting or preparing it for medicine. When I make medicine, I pray in the name of The Creator YHWH Raphe (The Lord My Healer) that He will heal the person through the power of His Son Yeshua the Messiah. It is important that prayer be the first option for healing and plant medicine subsequent to that. And remember to give Him all the glory for the healing. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of YHWH.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31
Chief Joseph & Dr. Laralyn RiverWind are ordained ministers, kingdom activists, speakers and national award-winning musicians. Their heart for walking with the Creator is evident; their passion for digging after the deep treasures of the Ancient Path is enlightening, and their zeal for The Creator is contagious.
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"That's What the Old Ones Say" Pre-Colonial Revelations of God to Native America. A revealing book of intriguing stories told by elders from different First Nations Tribes about The Creator, His Son, Native End-Times Prophecies, Revelations.Many of these traditional stories have been told for generations at Ceremonial Grounds, Stomp Arbors, Powwow Grounds, and private family gatherings tucked away deep on tribal lands. I was honored and humbled to be able to sit and learn these old stories from elders hailing from many First Nations tribes. Comanche, Dineh, Apache, Anishinabe, Aztec, Cherokee, Creek, Cheyenne, Lakota, and Mohawk.