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Herbal Wisdom: memory and migration

Author(s): Cathy Avila | Sue Evans | Annette Morgan

Journal: Coolabah
ISSN 1988-5946

Volume: 5;
Start page: 15;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: complementary medicine | herbal medicine | memory performance

Within contemporary Western herbal medicine, traditional knowledge andmodern science are combined to provide a unique meeting of patient, practitioner andplant. In the Australian context, herbalists have based their practice on knowledgewhich originates from the traditions of Europe, and has more recently been influencedby traditional medicine from Asia. The combination of these diverse ways ofknowing—traditional and modern, Eastern and Western—means herbal practitioners areinfluenced by ancient philosophy alongside phytochemistry and biomedical sciences.The challenge for herbal medicine today is that faced by all living (as opposed toossified) traditions: how is a practice forged which retains what is valuable from thepast while establishing relevance to the 21st century? We illustrate these issues in thecontext of the conference theme of ‘food for thought’ and consider medicinal plantswhich are used for the improvement of cognition. We focus on the therapeutic use ofcommon herbs from the Eastern and Western traditions and present the scientificresearch which shows their ability to facilitate cognitive function and the laying downof memory. We also tell their traditional stories which indicate that these actions havebeen recognised and utilised for centuries. We go on to demonstrate, via case studies,the clinical application of this knowledge and in particular the importance of ancientpractice of synergistic prescribing which occurs when a number of herbs are prescribedtogether in a formula. Scientific understanding of the basis of this practice is beingdeveloped which further complements and validates traditional herbal wisdom.
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