Need Healing? 3 Facts about Traditional Irish Medicine

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

I'm not Irish, as I was sad to find out in a recent Ancestry DNA test. I can still eat, drink and be merry like one, though. And tomorrow morning, when I've got a headache/stomach-ache from all the fun I've had today, I could look to traditional Irish medicines to help cure what ails me. 

Here are 3 little-known facts about traditional Irish medicine:

1. Traditional Irish medicine is cheap.

The ancient Irish had access to many of the same medicines that pharmaceutical companies spend billions making today. Estimates are that, in 2015, pharmaceutical companies made about $116 billion dollars in profits, while they spent about $76 billion on research and development

Irish medicine, on the other hand, was a lot cheaper. You just had to pick and prepare the herbs, but you didn't have to choose between paying for your medicine or paying the rent that month. 

2. The ancient Irish discovered a lot of modern medicinal drugs.

The Irish mainly practiced herbal medicine. They knew the medicinal uses for many different types of plants. Many of our modern medicines are re-created to mimic the medicinal substances found in some of these plants. For instance, aspirin is found in willow bark and digitalis is found in foxglove.

The ancient Irish were not the first ones to practice advanced medicinal techniques with herbs. Actually, clay tablets written by the Sumerians 5,000 years ago have been found that listed hundreds of medicinal plants and their uses. 

The Irish took advantage of the many medicinal plants, flowers and trees that grow abundantly in lushly green and fertile Ireland. In addition to aspirin from willow bark and digitalis from foxglove (used for heart maladies), some of the other herbs used were morphine from the opium poppy for pain, quinine from the cinchona tree for leg cramps, burdock for its antiseptic and detoxifying effects, and catnip to soothe your cough. St John's Wort, one of the few herbs still commonly used today, was used to help treat depression and anxiety.

There are numerous other herbs from ancient times that are making a come-back in holistic medicine today. Refer to any of the following links for a description of these herbs and their uses:

Irish Herbal Medicine

14 Irish Herbs From the Tolka Valley, Dublin Ireland

Ancient Irish Health Tips, Remedies and Cures

3. The Celts (ancient Irish) combined their practice of medicine with their spirituality.

The Druids were the spiritual guardians of the Celts. They combined the practices of spirituality with holistic medicine to ensure that each Celtic citizen led a healthy holistic lifestyle. Not only did the Druids ensure that each Celt exercised and ate well, but they also used plants, tree, and flowers to create medicine for their people. In essence, Druids were the shamans of the Celtic people.

The ancient Irish believed that every living being (including rocks, water, plants and animals) had a spirit, or soul. They respected the life power within each living being and respectfully appreciated the gifts each plant gave to those who harvested it respectfully. They believed that respect for a living being enhanced its power to provide sustenance or heal. Druids did not just pick herbs for medicine. They also thanked the earth for the gifts of life and healing the earth provided. 

In my opinion, the addition of an attitude of gratitude likely enhanced the healing powers of the medicine used. 

Civilizations such as the Irish and the Sumerians accessed the secrets of Earth's healing powers thousands of years ago. Modern medicine is still profiting from this ancient knowledge today. Perhaps, due to the fact that herbs are sometimes easier and cheaper to access than pharmaceutical drugs, it is time for us to return to some of these traditional herbal healing methods. 


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