The re-emergence of grassroots herbalism: an analysis through the blogosphere

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Publication details

Bitcon, C, Evans, S & Avila, C 2016, 'The re-emergence of grassroots herbalism: an analysis through the blogosphere', Health Sociology Review, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 108-121.

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The Complementary and Alternative medicine sector has grown enormously since 1980. Western Herbal Medicine (WHM), located within this domain, is a traditional therapeutic system that has enjoyed this recent public acceptance. Scientific evidence supporting therapeutic actions of plants employed in WHM has inspired public confidence. Today the herbal product industry is big business, employing sophisticated pharmaceutical manufacturing processes and competitive marketing strategies for phytomedicines with little resemblance to living plants. The literature reports a divergence of views among practitioners seeking to identify central tenets of contemporary WHM and cites herbalists who are resisting the commodification of herbal medicine. This study employs qualitative research methods to examine the blogosphere for evidence of this group using a combined purposive sampling approach and thematic analysis of blogs meeting predetermined inclusion criteria. The search revealed a group of bloggers who voice concerns about the direction WHM is taking and are ethically responsive to global environmental pressures. They share the common value that WHM should remain a healthcare option that empowers and supports the community and suggest this is best achieved by maintaining and sharing fundamental skills of plant identification, simple herbal product manufacturing and incorporating both science and tradition in their herbal practice.

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