How the “Green People” Came to Our Aid (a Cherokee Tale)

In the foreword to her wonderful little book “Herbal Medicine”, herbalist Vicky Pitman relates the beautiful story by the Cherokee of how the green people came to the aid of human beings.

This book is a valuable addition to any budding family herbalists library. Click the image to get more details.

“In the beginning of this world, all creatures could speak a common language, and respected and understood one another, taking only what they needed to live. Gradually however, humans began to abuse their place in the Great Life: they took more than they needed, lacked respect for fellow creatures, and trampled on others carelessly.

The other animals held councils to try to decide how to solve the problem of man, but could think of no plan that would work. Finally the insects thought up the idea of giving diseases to humans to kill them off, and diseases began to appear among humans, but although many died, many survived. The insects then went to the Green People, the plants, for help in totally destroying arrogant humanity.

After four days of deliberation, Grandfather Ginseng, the chief of the Green People, replied, ‘We have heard your words and there is much truth in them. People have hurt and abused us as much or more than they have you. But we also understand that man is still young and foolish and we are all part of the same Great Life.

So we have decided that if people come to us in a good way, a sacred way, we will help them by giving them the cure for every disease which you, the insects, have made.”

This is just a story.

But it hints at the fact that herbology is not a cure-all for all health problems. It suggests that what herbalism might work for, is limited to those conditions that are sometimes termed ‘organic’ diseases – [caused by the insects]. Referring to bodily sickness, injury or disease.

Problems in the spiritual, emotional and mental realms is according to this story not within the scope of plants.

Knowing the nature and cause of a health problem is fundamental to developing a treatment protocol. There is no point in trying to use a treatment for something which is way beyond its natural abilities. To this end family herbalists spend considerable time studying the nature and cause of disease. Or why we get sick.

The Cherokee tale also hints at the fact that herbalism should be used within a specific framework, or way, to be a cure.

This means that to be truly effective it must be used by knowledgeable people in a way (a treatment protocol) that acknowledges that they and the plants they use are mere tools in the hands of the only True Healer – God Almighty.

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  1. Louis Olivier says:

    Of course plants and herbs cannot heal every condition every time, but then again neither can Western Medicine.

  2. Melissa Danysh says:

    I think that there are limitations to herbal medicine, in that it can be used to treat mostly minor illnesses/ailments (from my very amateur knowledge), and can aid in healing, but isn’t going to cure or “fix” traumatic injury- for example if you have a very deep cut that needs stitches, or if you’re in an auto accident and need surgery on an organ.

    I do think that Herbalists and plants are tools for God, after all- he created both. I do also agree that the humans wielding the plants can have ill intentions and cause harm to others.

  3. Erin Burden says:

    Yes, I agree with Marietjie, I do believe that Herbalist and the plants they use are tools of God if they want to be. However I have not doubt that they can be used for wicked as well as healing.

  4. Marietjie Van der Walt says:

    I truly believe the words that Herbalists and the plants they use are mere tools in the hands of God.
    He created all the plants for us to use, either for food or medicine.


  1. […] So, if exploring the Christian view of your role as Family Herbalist, and the role of herbalism in healing makes you uncomfortable, you can safely skip ahead to Lesson 3. […]

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