12th Mount Haemus Lecture: From solstice to equinox and back again – The influence of the midpoint on human health and the use of plants to modify such effects

Herbalist Julian Barker examines the relationship between human health and the seasons, with particular reference to the neuroendocrine system and the significance of the solstices and equinoxes.

by Julian Barker


Considering that all organisms on earth are united by their necessary responsiveness to the cycles generated by sun, earth and moon, I take a biological look at the constants and inconstancies of life. Health is viewed as a dynamic time series rather than a static state and one that is best achieved by acknowledging the diurnal and seasonal variations to which all living things must respond. All beings, from the earthworm to elephant, including bacteria and virus’ share the same nucleotides—DNA & RNA—which may be considered as earth’s first solar panels.

Plants, as the mediators of the sun’s energy for us all, provide not only food but the crucial templates upon which animals depend for their biochemical pathways.  Small wonder, therefore, that the health and fertility of many species of mammal depends entirely upon plants that we also use as medicine.

I review the science of circadian, tidal and annual rhythms, then move to a detailed analysis of the internal regulators of our metabolic lives and how these neurohormonal cycles are modulated by seasonal fluctuations. As a clinical plantsman, I give an overview of how the changes required from us by sun, earth and moon can be supported by the timely and judicious administration of whole plant medicines.

Read the Lecture

Also available in The Mount Haemus Lectures – Volume Two through our bookshop and as a downloadable pdf below.

About the Author

The practice of herbal medicine is Julian Barker’s third (and last) profession, a career he embarked upon in the early 1970s, first in North and Central America, then came back to Britain and started all over again: training with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and graduated from their School of Herbal Medicine. He taught Plant Biology there for 20 years during which time he wrote: The Medicinal Flora – a Field Guide to the Medicinal Plants of Britain & Northwestern Europe (Winter Press 2001). He supervised dissertations for the BSc in Herbal Medicine, and taught Botany as well as Philosophy on the MSc in herbal medicine at the University of East London, and published History, Philosophy and Medicine – Phytotherapy in Context.  As for clinical work, in 1983 he took over a retiring GP’s premises in Hove to run a multidisciplinary practice from where he has just moved to larger premises in Lewes. Since 1998, Julian has worked and studied in Paris with Dr Jean–Claude Lapraz on the application of medicinal plants according to the neuroendocrine theory of terrain. His book Human Health and its Maintenance with the Aid of Medicinal Plants was published in 2020.

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