Herbs, soil, and health: Beyond human and planetary medicine

"Among poisons and potions medicines and fertilizer..." AI Generated image (midjourney) from poem within text
Espinosa Guarderas, Juan Mateo. "Herbs, Soil, and Health: Beyond Human and Planetary Medicine." University of Washington, 2023.

Herbs, Soil, and Health:
Beyond Human and Planetary Medicine

This dissertation explores the relationships between the generation of medical knowledge and its connections to herbs, soil, and the study of living organisms. The dissertation explores the origins of medical knowledge by tracing the history and significance of medical concepts such as ‘adaptability,’ ‘autopoiesis,’ ‘milieu,’ and the ‘normal’ in physiology. An important direction and intended contribution are the discussions of methodological approaches to studying living beings in their milieu, guided by a discussion of vitalist and mechanistic approaches to understanding life processes, and a proposal to embark on a specific method of inquiry equipped with the possibility of such intellectual purpose: intuition. Health, conceptually, is also analyzed from a contemporary political context and the implications of ecological crisis on how health is conceived and practiced upon, on a more-than-human, planetary scale. Informed by the study of medical philosophy, the dissertation shifts into an application of intuitive methods and a vitalist conceptualization of the living and its relation to its milieu, to explore soils, agriculture, and animal husbandry. Through a series of explorations of methods learned towards soil health, we propose that the idea of working towards planetary health, humans included, can be achieved optimistically by working for the ground, for soil and its life-giving potential, in what can be conceived as a medical agriculture that can set the planet on the path towards ever greater abundance of life, and health.