Healing with plants

From Anthroposophy

The study of botany for the use of medicinal plants is also called herbalism or herbal medicine, or photomedicine or phytotherapy. The scope includes, herbal teas (or tisanes), tinctures (alcoholic extracts of herbs), essential oils, or inhalation (aromatherapy).

The use of plants for healing is millenia old and shown to be part of most ancient cultures, incl. Egypt, Greek but also Chinese, Indian (eg ayurveda) but similarly native americans.

It is a huge field of ancient knowledge, against which contemporary mineral science opposes with the clinical systems set by the pharmaceutical industry that focuses on chemistry underlying chemical and biological compounds.



Lecture coverage and references


link Bach blossoms: abdominal illnesses are best healed by the blossoms and leaves of plants, the head by plant roots


Essential oils


The modern development of aromatherapy is to be found in France, with the lineage of Dr. Chabènes, Gattefosse, Valnet, Maury, Ryman. Rene Maurice Gattefosse (1881-1950) coined the term 'aromatherapy' in a publication in 1937, after he studied essential oils (after a personal experience by curing burns with lavender in 1910). The French surgeon Jean Valnet pioneered the use of essential oils as antiseptics in the treatment of wounded soldiers during World War II. Marguerite Maury (1895-1968), a student of Gattefosse, furthered this by her own pioneering research into the therapeutic and cosmetic uses of essential oils. 

An example of a recent study is the Ethel Burns study at Oxford Brookes University (1999), the largest research initiative in the use of aromatherapy within a health-care setting, with an evaluative study in childbirth of over 8000 mothers between 1990 and 1998

Bach blossoms or flower therapy

Edward Bach (1886-1936) developing the Bach flower remedies intuitively in 1930 as a new healing technique based on the energy pattern of the flower (and not the rest of the plant). Mother tincture are a solution mix of water and brandy.

Related pages

References and Further reading

  • Wilhelm Pelikan (1893-1981) (three volumes Heilpflanzenkunde I, II, III)
  • Gerbert Grohmann (1897-1957): Heilpflanzen in Rudolf Steiners Geisteswissenschaft und Medizin (2014)
  • Werner Christian Simonis (1898-1984), ao Heilpflanzen (three volumes, Band I, II, III)
  • Jochen Bockemühl: A guide to understanding healing plants (two volumes I and II)
  • Markus Sommer: 'Healing Plants' (and others)


  • Dr. Chabènes: 'Les Grandes Possibilités par les Matières Odoriferantes' (1838)
  • Rene Maurice Gattefosse (1881-1950): Aromatherapy (1937, original in FR: 'Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles Hormones Végétales')
  • Jean Valnet (1920-1995): 'The Practice of Aromatherapy' (1980 in EN, original in FR 1964 as 'Aromathérapie - Traitment des Maladies par les Essence de Plantes')
  • Robert Tisserand (1948) 'The Art of Aromatherapy' (1977)
  • Peter Holmes:
    • Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. Principles and Profiles (2016)
    • Aromatica Volume 2: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. Applications and Profiles (2019)