blog # 3 From herbalism to the indoor pharmacy

The evolution of plant medicine and humanity.

Imagine a jungle, or wooded glen…greens and browns, sweating leaves, crackling sticks underfoot, the sniff of alertness in a nearby animal, levels of wilderness – undergrowth, shrubs, bushes, trees reaching beyond sight, width, breadth, vines entangled in over and through, roots, trunks, branches, leaves, stems, rotting nutritious decay, and the plants highest expression of itself – the flowers.  Mandalas of growth, intricacy of colour, stamens, pollen, aroma, shapes that only certain creatures can unlock and marry amongst, treasure, attraction, flight, breeze, iridescence, life, growth.  And more layers – creatures, cobwebs, interaction, symbiosis, essential nature.

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Plants have a history of interacting within the human body since the moment that humans and plants both existed on earth.  Before the recent use of pharmaceuticals, and the philosophy behind which modern medicine is prescribed, plants were not only trusted for their ability to heal the concerns of humanity, but were interwoven as an innate part of culture and society.

The disconnection between plants and humanity is not only a physical one; I feel a large layer of distrust is playing a part between keeping humans and plant medicine separated.  I myself have been through an enormous journey to find trust in plants again – and this is coming from someone who already knew they had a calling as a Herbalist.

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It took courage for me to initially consume plant medicines, to have enough positive and exceptional experiences from the use of plant medicine to then begin a relationship and dialogue with those plants within my body.  This took years of consideration to even hear the first whispers of what I now know to be the culmination of evolution between plants and humanity playing out within my own body and spirit.  Since deeply immersing myself in nature, I came to realise that the amazing feelings I would receive in the wilderness were an expression of the vis medicatrix naturae…the healing power of nature.  And this very thing that resided in the wilderness was what resided in plant medicine, and what resides within us as our innate capacity to heal.  This is what naturopathic practitioners work to support in our client’s bodies.  This is the essence of what we all carry within us as natural beings.

There are so many different ways to use plant medicines; from molecular interactions within the body where herbs can be measured as parts per million within our bloodstream, to vibrational interactions with our spirit from flower essences which do not show up in our bloodstream with current ways of measuring (but show up in our lives with shifts in our ways of seeing and being in the world).  The philosophies surrounding the ways of prescribing are beset in a culture and its way of living; from Ayurvedic traditions in India to Acupuncture in Traditional Chinese medicine.  There are many crossovers around the world, and as many differences.  Ancient philosophies incorporate humans as part of a whole system of interaction between body, mind, spirit, community, culture, land.  We cannot get to the root of an issue by prescribing purely for the physical, as we are not just a physical body.  Traditional prescribing has always known we are more than just what lies beneath the skin.

In my experience, and this is a fluid understanding which changes as my own experiences alter my inner landscape, we humans are not and have never been isolated from our natural environment.  Although a huge part of the global population is physically removed from the natural environment, and many of us may feel disconnected from nature – nature and humans are one and the same thing.  That connection has been woven into our human fabric through evolution and a few hundred years of slipping out of nature and into alternative landscapes isn’t even close to disconnecting us truly from our roots.

These thoughts are based on my experience and a deeply felt honest connection with nature as a part of my being.  I am finding my own way with naturopathy and herbalism, carving a path through the current culture by incorporating long held traditions, the incredible world of science, the insight we have into the physical body through amazing current technology, well-structured research, wisdom from my peers in all areas of healthcare.  I truly believe it is up to us as health practitioners to forge a path together by culminating our honest experiences within the modalities in which we work.

I know plant medicine as a powerful way to reconnect with our natural heritage and to build trust with a tool that can support humans into the next century, especially during a time where health has become a nerve-racking arena and healing has become a place frequently filled with doubt, uncertainty and lack of empowerment.

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This is my experience.  I urge you to find your own ways to care for your health and wellbeing.  To do that requires investigation, courage, curiosity and a willingness to explore your own inner landscape.  Use your own experiences to build a relationship to your health.  As with any relationship these things take time and require positive experience to prove themselves worthy of attention and trust.

We are all in the process of natural evolution, always.

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