Counseling Sheet

Use of Herbs as Remedies

In June 1863, at Atsego, Michigan, Mrs. E. G. White was given a vision in which she received much precious instruction for the church regarding the preservation of health and principles of rational treatment of disease. During subsequent years, she wrote and published hundreds of pages on this subject.

Among her manuscripts and letters on file at the Elmshaven office, we have found passages in which she makes reference to the use of simple herbs as a remedial agency. In none of her published works, however, did she specifically recommend their use.

From these facts it seems reasonable to reach two conclusions:

First: Inasmuch as there is, among all her published works, no reference to the use of herbs as a remedy for disease, and, further, as there are so few allusions to it among the thousands of letters and manuscripts on file, it would seen inconsistent for anyone to quote Mrs. White in justification of his engaging in medical practice as a "herbalist," making the prescription of herbs the outstanding feature of his treatment of the sick.

Second: On the other hand, it seems equally inconsistent for one who accepts Mrs. White's writings as higher than human authority, to ignore the plain statements that are to be found in her writings regarding the benefits of certain simple herbs. Nor can he consistently criticize another practitioner who, while recognizing the value of the broad, comprehensive principles of therapy supported by the Testimonies, uses or recommends herbs that have been found to be beneficial in certain ailments.

Of the statements regarding the use of herbs, the majority are made in connection with the condemnation of the use of harmful drugs. It is in such a setting that there is found what seems to be the strongest and, to some, the most perplexing statements regarding herbs: "The true method for healing the sick is to tell them of the herbs that grow for the benefit of man.'' {MS 105, 1898} We believe that a study of the context will convince the reader that the author, when she wrote this, had in mind only that which should be taken internally.

Following are statements on herbs:

  • "The use of certain herbs that the Lord has made to grow for the good of man, is in harmony with the exercise of faith." {MS 31, 1911}
  • "And when I violate the laws God has established in my being, I am to repent and reform, and place myself in the most favorable condition under the doctors God has provided, --pure air, pure water, and the healing, precious sunlight. Water can be used in many ways to relieve suffering. Draughts of clear, hot water taken before eating (half a quart more or less), will never do any harm, but will rather be productive of good. A cup of tea made from catnip herb will quiet the nerves. {PH144 6.1}
  • "Hop tea will induce sleep. Hop poultices over the stomach will relieve pain. {PH144 6.2}
  • "When the head is congested, if the feet and limbs are put in a bath with a little mustard, relief will be obtained. {PH144 6.4}
  • "There are many more simple remedies, which will do much to restore healthful action to the body. All these simple preparations the Lord expects us to use for ourselves; but man's extremities are God's opportunities. {PH144 6.5}
  • "God has caused to grow out of the ground herbs for the use of man and if we understand the nature of these roots and herbs, and make a right use of them, there would not be a necessity of running for the doctor so frequently, and people would be in much better health than they are today. {PH144 7.2}
  • "There are simple herbs and roots that every family may use for themselves, and need not call in a physician any sooner than they would call a lawyer. {PH144 8.2}
  • "The Lord has given some simple herbs of the field that at times are beneficial; and if every family were educated in how to use these herbs in case of sickness, much suffering might be prevented, and no doctor need be called. These old-fashioned, simple herbs, used intelligently, would have recovered many sick, who have died under drug medication." {PH144 9.2}
  • "There are herbs that are harmless, the use of which will tide over many apparently serious difficulties. {PH144 10.2}
  • "This is God's method. The herbs that grow for the benefit of man, and the little handful of herbs kept and steeped and used for sudden ailments, have served tenfold, yes, one hundred fold better purposes, than all the drugs hidden under mysterious names and dealt out to the sick. {PH144 12.2}
  • "The true method for healing the sick is to tell them of the herbs that grow for the benefit of man. Scientists have attached large names to these simplest preparations, but true education will lead us to teach the sick that they need not call in a doctor any more than they would call in a lawyer. They can themselves administer the simple herbs if necessary. {PH144 13.1}
  • "Our Saviour is the restorer of the moral image of God in man. He has supplied in the natural world remedies for the ills of man, that His followers may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. We can with safety discard the concoctions which man has used in the past. The Lord has provided antidotes for disease in simple plants, and these can be used by faith, with no denial of faith; for by using the blessings provided by God for our benefit we are cooperating with Him. We can use water and sunshine and the herbs which He has caused to grow for healing maladies brought on by indiscretion or accident." {MS 65, 1899)
  • "It would have been better if from the first all drugs had been kept out of our sanitariums, and use had been made of such simple remedies as are found in pure water, pure air, sunlight, and some of the simple herbs growing in the field. These would be just as efficacious as the drugs used under mysterious names, and concocted by human science, and they would leave no injurious effects in the system. {PH144 15.1}
  • "There are simple herbs that can be used for the recovery of the sick, whose effect upon the system is very different from that of those drugs that poison the blood and endanger life." {MS 73, 1908}
  • "There are many simple herbs which, if our nurses would learn the value of, they could use in the place of drugs, and find very effective." Letter 90, 1908. {PH144 16.2}

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