Learn more about herbal medicine at UCD

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Health Herbal - CIT also runs an hon­ours de­gree pro­gramme herbal sci­ence course. See cit.ie/course/CR330 The Holis­tic Gar­dener by Fiann Ó Nual­láin is a good start­ing point for peo­ple in­ter­ested

Dr Bair­bre Ní Fhloinn, pic­tured left, is a lec­turer in Ir­ish folk­lore at Univer­sity Col­lege Dublin (UCD), teach­ing an un­der­grad­u­ate mod­ule on heal­ers and heal­ing which in­cludes a num­ber of classes on herbal medicine.

“If folk medicine didn’t an­swer a need, it would be gone,” says Ní Fhloinn. “That need is lo­cal and on hand, de­liv­ered by peo­ple from your own com­mu­nity and who you can re­late to.

“My course al­ways be­gins with the achieve­ments of mod­ern medicine. These need to be spelt out; in no way am I claim­ing that herbal medicine is bet­ter than con­ven­tional ap­proaches.”

Dis­taste for ‘nat­u­ral’

In­deed, Ní Fhloinn has a vis­i­ble dis­taste for the word “nat­u­ral” which can be used as short­hand for “good” when it comes to health­care: re­mem­ber, death cap mush­rooms and deadly night­shade are per­fectly nat­u­ral.

“But the course is an im­por­tant in­sight into peo­ple’s per­cep­tions of health and ill­ness, and the whole process of heal­ing which is multi-lay­ered and multi-di­men­sional.

“Mod­ern medicine is in­creas­ingly aware of the in­ter­con­nected na­ture of dif­fer­ent parts of our body and mind.”

Ris­ing in­ter­est

The num­ber of stu­dents on the heal­ers and heal­ing mod­ule is in­creas­ing year on year. This year, it hit max­i­mum ca­pac­ity with 50 stu­dents; at least 20 of these are nurs­ing stu­dents. Large num­bers of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, es­pe­cially Amer­i­can stu­dents, are choosing this UCD mod­ule and it is a sig­nif­i­cant draw for UCD.

Aca­demics from a range of dis­ci­plines are tak­ing a fresh look at the UCD Na­tional Folk­lore Col­lec­tion’s archive, in search of for­got­ten cures and cul­tural in­sights. These plants may be deep­en­ing their roots in our lives.

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