Herbs vs. Pharmaceuticals

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven

Unfortunately, I became very prejudiced against pharmaceuticals when I became an herbalist. It was particularly rough for me to admit that my daughter needed to be on pharmaceuticals instead of the herbs that I had been growing for her. Even so, it was necessary to let go of the idea that herbs were the only answer. I tend to run in extremes, and balance here is key.

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A Time For Everything

There is a time for herbs and a time for pharmaceuticals.

When I had my first nervous breakdown after my house fire, I had to go on sedatives and shortly thereafter, antidepressants. Every time I took my pills, I felt like I was poisoning myself. I didn’t have a balanced view at all. Those antidepressants saved my life.

To this day, I am still on three different type of psychiatric pharmaceuticals. I may be on at least one for the rest of my life. Sometimes I get really bummed that I have to take these pills. There are unpleasant sideeffects and I often don’t feel well on them. But these things are for a season.

There will be a time when I will be off most of them.

There will be a time when I can trasition back to herbs for my mental health.

Balance is Key

For right now, these pills are helping me to journey through each day safely so that I can get the therapy I need so I can live life differently. I am actually thankful for these pharmaceuticals and for my psychiatrists and psychologists who have helped me through a very difficult time in my life.

That’s just what it is, a difficult time.

A balanced view is important. Only using herbs and never going to the doctor, even when it’s obvious they aren’t working is not smart. Going to the doctor and taking every antibiotic and not trying a natural approach first is also too extreme.

The Longview

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.

Carl G. Jung

What is the end goal?

Dude, for me it is to live and enjoy daily life without crippling anxiety. This is my wish. But daily life is not without its tragedies, not without thousands of annoyances.

How do I acheive my end goal? St John’s Wort was not cutting it. It’s ok, here and now, to take the pills I need to take so that my delicate and cracked spirit can rest from the daily anxiety and grow strong enough to handle those annoyances and tragedies that are sure to come. Herbs will then be by support system.

Until then, I need a stronger support structure so that I can safely learn the new healthier habits, responses and reactions that I need to go about my normal, difficult, beautiful, messy, gorgeous life.

The therapy I need to learn these new habits would be difficult, nigh on impossible, if I was in a constant state of anxiety as I was before.

The Next Steps

I have a team of doctors examining me right now whilst I’m in hospital. I have a small team outside the hospital as well. The goal that we all share in my Mental Health Plan for the Future is to stabilise me so that we can get to the point of slooooowly lowering my meds. My normal psychiatrist knows and agrees with my desire to use only herbs and to eventually get off meds. This is her goal as well. But, I have to be open to the idea that I might need something pharmaceutical for the rest of my life. This is where my immediate goal (get off meds) has to be balanced with The Longview (enjoy daily life).

If being on something pharmaceutical means I don’t have to experience agonising anxiety, then so be it.


I’m actually happy this has all come about. It has given me a very different, first-hand perspective of pharmaceuticals, a new respect for them and a more balanced view. This, I think, is a critical lesson and will help me be a more holistic and balanced (and empathetic) herbalist for my clients.

I chose Herbalism because I wanted to empower myself and others to take our health back into our own hands. That’s the foundation of it. Herbs or pharmceuticals, we need to use what is best for us at that moment and make the informed choices that are right for us.

One Comment on “Herbs vs. Pharmaceuticals

  1. You explain it so beautifully, dear Krista! So clearly and in an intimate, powerful way. Thank you so much!!!
    Your story made me think about these key concepts of open mindedness and detachment, moderation and balance, patience and trust (in ourselves and in the process) — how they are to help us in life and personal growth, understanding and thinking, attitudes and actions… And all are so difficult to figure out, therefore probably they play such a key role in our development, in the process of our chiseling and shaping the true essence of who we really are meant to be… THANK YOU for taking me along and stimulating that process in me too!


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