Throughout history, women have always been healers. For Women’s History Month, we’re looking at the ways in which women have been involved in the development of holistic health practices! With a history rich in growing herbs for healing, midwifery, energy healing, and nursing, women have played a huge role by sharing their knowledge, keeping these practices alive, and furthering holistic health!

History of Women in Holistic Healing

  • In Egypt, Priestesses of Isis in the second century were regarded as physician-healers who took their healing powers from the goddess Isis.

  • The most famous early Roman healer was a woman named Fabiola. She lived in the fourth century and is known as an important part of the creation of the first public hospital in Europe.

  • In China the wife of physician Ge Hong, Bao Gu, is credited with being the first to use dried mugwort as an acupuncture needle and was known as a skilled acupuncturist and external medicine doctor.

  • A Greek woman named Agnodice attended medical school, breaking the rules that prohibited women from entering the healing field in ancient Greece. She practiced obstetrics and gynecology, resulting in the updating of Greece’s laws.

  • Hildegard of Bingen was a German abbess and is often called the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.

  • In Italy during the Medieval Ages, Trota de Salerno was a famous female physician. Her treatments for women’s health and birthing were gathered and used for hundreds of years.

  • The Countess of Kent popularized a medical remedy powder, “The Countess of Kent’s Powder: good against all malignant and Pestilent diseases, French pox, Small Pox, Measles, Plague, Pestilence, malignant or Scarlet Fevers, (and) good against Melancholy.”

  • Hannah Woolley was one of the first women to make a living writing self-help books for women in the 17th century. She used her books to begin in-person consultations—an original idea at that time! She also worked in the kitchen to prepare tinctures and medicines.

  • Louise Bourgeois was a midwife to the queen of France in the early 17th century. She wrote a guide for her daughter using what she had learned while helping many women through difficult births.

Modern Women in Holistic Health

In more recent times, women continue to further the study and use of natural health. Many women can be credited with developments in the holistic and energy healing fields. For example, Florence Kendall was part of a two-person team that created a new model of muscle testing, publishing a book on this holistic health tool called Muscles: Testing and Function. Two women, professor of nursing Dolores Krieger, and natural healer Dora Kunz, developed a new type of natural healing called Therapeutic Touch in the early 1970s. Reiki was initially created in Japan by men but was popularized in the West by a woman named Hawayo Takata. Many more examples exist! Additionally, women make up a majority (86.2%) of those practicing holistic health in the world today. At Discover Healing, many incredible women have furthered their journeys as healers, with certifications in energy healing methods The Emotion Code® and The Body Code™!

Women have taken on an important role in everyday health and healing. We’re grateful for the role that women have played in the development of holistic health, in recent years and throughout the ages!