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There has always been an intimate relationship between people and plants, and throughout history botany and medicine have been inseparable. The herbalists, shamans and healers in any civilization inherited their knowledge of plants from their grandmothers and great-grandmothers before them. One could say that they were the earliest professionals in history and they certainly exerted quite an influence over the village folk.
As the Chinese say, there is nothing new under the sun, and archaeology tells us that many of the drugs used today have found their way to us from herbal medicine used since pre-historic times.
People must have learned about the healing (or killing) power of herbs and plants from trial and error, and there was a time when herbalists were accused of witchcraft. Some civilizations believed that plants cured by analogy, in other words heart shaped leaves were good for the heart, red resinous plants were good for the blood, and so on. But the general idea was (and still is) that there is a reason for even the most insignificant looking little plant to exist and it must be there for the benefit of man.
Modern concepts of healing with herbs began around the 16th century with volumes written with both valuable information or a lot of nonsense. Progress has been slow but steady ever since, and today medicinal herbs are truly appreciated for what they can offer, which is no small thing.
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