When I was a little girl, we spent our summer days playing outside. I don’t remember ever putting on sunscreen, so sunburns were inevitable. We’d come in beet red and parched, and my mom would have us break off a piece of aloe vera to rub over the burns. We didn’t like being all gooped up with the slimy aloe vera, but it was all we knew to do to ease the sunburn. I never thought of my mom as an “herbalist” using “alternative medicine”. She was just a mom doctoring up her kids.
Fast forward 30 plus years, and here I am trying to do the same thing to my kiddos. Over the years, I never once questioned whether my mom’s use of aloe vera on us kids was the Christian thing to do or not. Subsequently, I never once questioned whether my own home remedies were “Christian” or not. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Lord and I want to live righteous before Him. I had just never thought about the possibility that treating my children with herbs could be seen as unbiblical by some folks. In fact, herbalism has often been wrongly labeled not only unbiblical, but occultic and paganistic.
With much prayer and study, I hope to dispel these falsehoods. The question presented is this, “Is it permissible for Bible believing Christians to use herbs for health and healing?” My goal in writing this series is to help others see that God has provided herbs as a blessing to man. And not only are they a permissible form of medicine for Christians, they are often a preferred form of medicine.
What is herbalism?
As I get into the details in this series, I want to make sure that I define a few terms so that we are on the same page. When I use the term herbs, I am referring to plants and their constituents including roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, and in the case of trees, bark. I would also include honey and bee products as well. Although they are not considered herbs by definition, honey, pollen, propolis, and beeswax are all created with the help of plants derivatives and have many healing properties.
There are many practices that are often lumped in together with herbalism, but I want to make a clear distinction here. Herbalism does not include homeopathy, iridology, acupuncture, reflexology, muscle testing, and many other alternative forms of medicine. I will not be covering these practices in this article. Honestly, I have not done a great deal of research into these practices. I personally don’t feel at peace with using these types of therapies.
To sum it up, herbalism is simply using plants as medicine.
Where does true healing come from?
All true healing comes from God the Father. He has provided healing medicines and knowledgeable people to work as His hands and feet, but our faith should ultimately rest in Him and His sovereignty. This is a concept that was made real to me as I begin to study herbalism and use herbs to treat my family. For years I took my children to every well baby check up, made sure they had every shot on time, and didn’t hesitate to give them antibiotics for every illness that came up. In my mind, I was taking an active role in my child’s health. I would even go so far as to say I took pride in my care of my children.
What I didn’t realize was how much faith I was putting in doctors and immunizations and antibiotics. Sadly, I don’t remember ever praying that the Lord would protect my child from measles or whooping cough. I took it for granted that the immunizations I allowed them to receive would be their protectors. I didn’t have the same fervency in my prayers that I acquired once I started treating my children at home. I realized the error I had made in trusting in man and not the Lord. I still have much to learn in this area. I am so thankful that the Lord is gentle and long-suffering in teaching me His ways!