The Use of Plants as Medicine

The use of plants as medicine is an ancient practice developed on every continent of the world. Using plants as medicine is part of our heritage as humans, and is recorded in the archeological, oral and written history of every culture. We live in relationship with plants – we are dependent on them for everything from the atmosphere, to food, fibers, fuels and the medicines that sustain us. Plants have been used to balance us as through the seasons, support our recovery from sickness, enhance our capacity to withstand great stresses, and keep us nourished and healthy.

From the fossil record plants have populated the earth for 1.6 billion years, long predating our ancestors. We have co-evolved alongside each other creating a remarkable synergy between our bodies and that of plants. Multidimensional in their makeup, plants contain thousands of phytochemicals that our bodies respond to on a cellular level. In recent years receptors that respond to the bitter constituents of plants were even found in the tissues of our hearts.

Herbal Medicine and Pharmaceuticals are related but function differently. Fifty percent of pharmaceutical drugs available on the market are derived from or mirror plant molecules because we are hard wired to respond to them. The short coming from the perspective of an herbalist is that plants contain a large number, sometimes thousands of phytochemicals that interact, balance and create a synergy together that is lacking in pharmaceuticals made of isolated constituents. Herbal medicine utilizes the whole plant making it a potent, safe and beneficial medicine without the side effects that are inherent in the use of pharmaceuticals.

An example of the synergy contained in plants is that diuretic medications leach the body of potassium through the process of treatment. In herbal medicine, dandelion leaf is used because it is both diuretic and contains high levels of potassium replenishing your body as you use it.

What makes Herbalism effective is that it is wholistic, approaching health and healing with the belief that there is an inherent intelligence found in plants and all living beings. The body is viewed as an organism, all parts are interconnected including our emotional, psychological and physical selves. Herbalism is an ancient healing art that combines the legacy of plant use knowledge, traditional diagnostic skills and is strengthened with modern biomedical knowledge taking the entirety of the patient into account. Symptoms are seen as indicators allowing us to discover patterns, and reveal imbalances that lead to the treatment of the root cause of illnesses.

Our bodies’ ability to interact with plant molecules makes herbalism an incredibly efficient medicine that is capable of addressing a wide array of health concerns such as digestive illnesses, autoimmune conditions and fertility. Rather than simply managing symptoms, Herbal medicine treats the root cause by addressing the deeper states of imbalance in the body. Treatment is based on a consultation that takes your health history and current health concerns into account to create a customized plan for you that partners plants with the innate intelligence of your own body so you can heal and thrive.

We should never forget that nature, and plants in particular, are the basis of our existence. Physically as well as spiritually they form the very roots of human culture.

— Kat Morgenstern