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Happy Herbalist Day!

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

APRIL 17th

Spring brings many well-known religious holidays but there are a few holidays “not as well known” that I’d like to highlight for nurses.

Yes, as nurses, we all know about Nurses day and we’ve all gotten those little gift bags from our employers as a token of their appreciation for our hard work, but do you know its history and why it’s the founder is an inspiration? I’ll be writing more about Nurse’s Day closer to the event.

There are two other “not so well known” spring holidays that nurse herbalists celebrate in addition to Nurses Day that I believe every nurse, whether a trained herbalist or not, can celebrate.

The first holiday is “Herbalist Day.” This holiday event was first celebrated on April 17th, 2014, and began as a way to thank and honor herbalists, herbal teachers, and peers, who have assisted us and guided us, and have preserved the culture and knowledge of botanical therapies.

The second holiday celebrated is “Herb Day.” This holiday is celebrated internationally and takes place on the first Saturday in May 2006. It was created by a coalition of five non-profit organizations which includes the American Botanical Council, United Plant Savers, the American Herbal Products Association, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and the American Herbalist Guild. The month of May was chosen because it was the perfect month for planting, and growing herbs.

Unquestioningly, herbs play a vital role in our lives on a daily basis and we use them in a variety of ways for many purposes, such as medicinal, culinary, and aromatic uses.

As a nurse, have you ever used the flowering plant Coffea Arabica for your client to produce an effect? Your patient was fatigued, sluggish, had difficulty concentrating, and needed something to stimulate them, so you gave them the plant Coffea Arabica and it did produce a stimulating effect! It helped them to concentrate, become more alert, and even them move their bowels. What am I talking about? Coffee!

When we look at the history of nursing, nurses have always traditionally partnered with plants for the care and comfort of patients, communities, and families. It was part of the nursing practice for generations. This is a documented part of nursing history that has only recently been lost and rarely taught.

Our predecessors used broths, teas, herbal baths, and plasters, such as topical mustard plasters to nourish, manage symptoms of illness, alleviate suffering, and restore health. Many nurses have since lost this knowledge but still unknowingly, utilize plants to care for patients, even nurses who work at the bedside.

Have you ever given a patient ginger ale to help relieve nausea? This practice is based on the qualities of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale) and its wonderful constituents such as Gingerols. Gingerols are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can help alleviate arthritic pain, nausea, and so much more. There are now many studies that show that ginger may have immunomodulating properties, protect against colorectal cancer, and induce apoptosis in ovarian cancer. This is evidenced-based use of herbal therapies.

Now I wouldn’t suggest that you give a sugary ginger ale to your client; however, ginger tea has been proven in clinical trials to work wonders. Have you even offered chamomile tea to help a client relax or have you ever had a cup yourself? Have you ever diffused Lavender essential oil into a room to decrease anxiety? Again, these are researched plants that have been proven safe and effective.

I use these illustrations to suggest that we all still use plants in our care to assist our patients or practice self-care, even if we don’t realize it, and these practices are evidenced-based on recent studies and/or thousands of years of human use in traditional, indigenous, healing practices.

So if you are a nurse and an herbalist, celebrate all of these holidays, knowing that you are following in the footsteps of many nurses who have gone before you, who have partnered with plants for the care of their clients, communities, and families.

If you are a nurse and have never investigated the wonderful world of natural healing plant therapies, or lack the knowledge of the long-standing history of nurses utilizing herbal remedies, we encourage you to learn more and join us in the celebration by learning about the herbal history of your profession, which is rooted and grounded in botanical medicine.

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