By Olivia Robért
What is Herbal Medicine?
“Medicine is the knowledge and tools that keep you healthy and balanced.”
- Cecelia Garcia, Chumash Medicine Woman
As long as humans have been alive we have sought to understand ourselves and the world. To survive and thrive. In times of war and peace, humans cannot exist without the help of the natural world. Indigenous scholar Jack Forbes asks the question, "where do our bodies end?" If we were to lose our leg, an arm, a foot, we could survive. But if we lost the sun, the plants, the water? We rely on nature as a part of ourselves.
The plant world is full of medicine, and all humans can connect with it.
Who are the original people who first lived where you live? For UCSB students, that means the Chumash people who lived along the coast, islands, and foothills of Santa Barbara.
I interviewed Art Cisneros, Firekeeper and Chumash elder, who emphasizes that we all share the same earth, and are all indigenous to the earth. You do not have to be Native American to respect the earth and live in reciprocity with Mother Nature. In fact, it is very important that we all, regardless of ethnicity, begin to repay our debt to the earth for all she gives, and all we have taken without asking. Art shares the message of reciprocity with us at the sacred place (in Chumash pronounced awahweelashimo) now called El Capitan beach.
Meet the Researcher:
I am passionate about getting my peers interested in herbal medicine and encouraging all people to explore their relationship with the natural world. It was my honor to work with these elders and share their knowledge with you. It is our hope that you take this and share with your friends and family, and see for yourself that plant medicine is easier than you think, and more rewarding than you could have hoped. I can personally attest to the use of these plants in helping me become more healthy, energized, connected, and empowered. It is my hope and joy that they will do the same for you.
English & American Indian Indigenous studies student, UCSB