Who Are We?
The Scottish Radical Herbal Network is a Scotland-wide collective made up of herbalists and health activists working towards a society and healthcare system based on principles of fairness, justice and environmental responsibility. Through our collaboration we are building a community to take action on issues of health, ecological herbal medicine, and the social injustices that support a system of ill health.
What Do We Do?
We formed in the summer of 2015, and in September 2016 organised Scotland’s first ever Radical Herbal Gathering at Tombreck Farm, Perthshire bringing together activists & herbalists to build a movement around radical health, social justice & herbalism in Scotland.
As a network we are involved in a range of projects from practical and clinical herbal medicine, growing and selling local herbs, providing free clinics to refugees and asylum seekers to working on wider issues around health, the environment and social inequalities. You can find out more about these on our Network page, as well as add your own projects and resources to the library.
The two Gatherings were a great success, and we aim to hold national gatherings in the future, as well as smaller regional events. In 2019, look out for smaller events in Edinburgh & Glasgow.
Interested in setting up a Scottish Radical Herbal Network group in your area? Get in touch!
What Do We Stand For?
We are a diverse radical health collective with some common focuses, and we ask that those who are listed on our Directory and facilitate workshops at our events are also aligned with these points below, or are seeking to learn more about them:
We believe that inclusive & grounded herbal medicine, using well sourced plant species and practised with sensitivity to wider societal and environmental injustices has potential to truly transform individual & community healthcare on our struggling home planet
- Collaborate: we aim to build a community sharing resources and perspectives through mutual aid
- Empower/Create: we aim to develop links with health and social struggles through accessible community education and engagement in radical health care
- Act: we aim to take collective action and environmental, social and health injustices created by a system that perpetuates ill health
Inclusive & Responsible Herbalism:
- Our Network welcomes and supports all those who are interested in herbs, not limited to people who have chosen to work as herbalists, but values all of the ways in which people use or learn about herbs. We want to challenge the hierarchy that says university educated Medical Herbalists have the greatest or most valued knowledge & experience.
- Inclusive & responsible herbal practice is one which proactively seeks to make herbalism relevant and accessible to all people and not just the predominantly white middle class cis-women who it is currently most often aimed at, and who do not struggle with access.
- It is also inclusive of trans & non-binary people and so shares understandings of physiology which isn’t tethered to simplistic understandings of binary sex & gender, but rather focuses on physiological function e.g. rather than referring to ‘women’s herbs’, refer to the function of those herbs i.e. they relax the uterus.
- We encourage the use of herbs as medicine, but also other healing modalities when more appropriate respecting the choice and autonomy of individuals always. This is part of a holistic approach that takes a person’s physical, social, psycho-emotional & environmental context into consideration
- We aim to educate widely about the current unsustainable practices of using endangered and at risk medicinal species, and promote the use of abundant alternative plants, as well as avoiding needless therapy so we are all only using what we need e.g. using Daisies instead of Arnica, or Marshmallow instead of Slippery Elm Bark.
Solidarity & Mutual Aid:
- We value standing in solidarity with each other and actively participating in mutual aid for collective gain. We recognise that we are stronger together and can learn from each others’ struggles.
- We want to be proactive in our solidarity to groups which are typically more marginalised in society and for reasons such as structural racism, inequality, classism, ableism, patriarchy, sexism, transphobia and xenophobia tend to have less access to justice, support, autonomy and quality of life.
- We are pro-parents, and seek to support & learn from parents, carers and guardians doing the incredible work of raising the next generation of activists. We also seek to learn from children themselves, respecting their autonomy and boundaries and including them as much as possible.
Interconnection & Responsibility:
- We value our land and history, acknowledging that our health is intrinsically related to the health of the land, air, water, and each other. We take seriously our responsibility to the land, and to each other, in maintaining our communities’ health and wellbeing.
- We are striving to cultivate a community-based and Earth-centred herbal plant medicine, with a deep, reciprocal connection with the plants that sustain us
- We want to support building of soil, regeneration of landscapes, widespread small scale growing of herbs and food and short supply chains across Scotland to build a local network of herb growers, medicine makers, practitioners, and people working on the land. We value the de-industrialisation of medicine, and instead want to build practices that consider the health & lives of our relatives in seven generations to come.
- We value cultural exchange and learning from each other’s diverse traditions while respecting them. We seek to constantly reflect on and work on decolonising herbalism – to reduce practices that could be seen to cause harm, or have benefited from harm already done. See this website for more information: http://www.thegreenwoman.com/DECOLONIZING-HERBALISM.pdf
- We want to be rooted in Scottish Ancestral herbal traditions attached to this land and also to recognise the influence that migrations and entangled cultural histories have on trying to simplify ideas of identity, ownership & culture. We are a diverse nation and our individual histories and stories of how we have arrived where we are are complex, so trying to root into the traditions of the land can exclude people who have arrived more recently or don’t have an obvious cultural tradition they are part of. At the same time there is also great violence that took place to erode those folk traditions in the first place so they are worth cherishing and keeping alive. This feels like a difficult contradiction and we want to always keep reflecting on it and be informed by others
- we value finding and sharing skills so as to free ourselves from dependency on the hierarchies of accepted knowledge and power and to create community wellbeing. We believe that knowledge and collective action are liberating. Everyone is a teacher; everyone is a student.
- we value humour, joy and having fun. We want to create spaces where celebration is a priority. When empowered people engage in positive organising it is cause for celebration. Through this we look to build optimism within our communities.
- we value a diversity of approaches, people and places. We encourage and respect autonomy in our decision making and action.
- We operate non-hierarchically, and value informed consent in our decision making
- We aim to create communities of resistance to find real well being through challenging both existing power structures and our own, personal approaches to health.
- We value collective action, and recognise and struggle against the inequalities, prejudices and profit motive. These cause widespread environmental destruction, exploitation of humans and the commodification of the living world, whilst holding us in a system of ill health.