12 Oct '18
A Beginner's Guide to Plant Medicine
Discover The Healing Properties of Common Flora
Photo by NordWood Themes.
Every once in a while, we’re all in need of a detox, whether it be our bodies, our homes, or our work spaces. This cleansing is essential to our spiritual health and promotes a kind of healing that synthetic medicine and commercial cleaning products cannot provide. To truly heal in a holistic way, we have to go back to the Earth. Plant medicine is an ancient tradition that’s been employed as long as humankind has had health problems (read: forever). From the bark to seeds to the fruit of a plant, there’s a plethora of all-natural healing agents available to us, growing right in the ground.
Here are a few of the plants you can use to restore balance and well-being to your body and your living space.
Palo santo, or “holy wood,” comes from a type of tree common throughout Central and South America. Popular among the Incas, palo santo fights inflammation, infection, and even cancer. It also tempers allergic symptoms, reduces anxiety, relieves muscular aches, counteracts free radicals, and bolsters the immune system. (Is there anything palo santo can’t do?!)
You can find palo santo in oil or stick form. The oil can be added to hot water and ingested like tea or it can be incorporated into your coconut body oil and applied topically at bedtime. Put a few drops in a hot bath or a diffuser and breathe in its healing properties.
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Burning a palo santo stick can purify energy fields, clear negativity, and is said to repel evil spirits. Its scent is also a natural insect repellant. Simply light one end of a palo santo stick, let it burn for up to a minute, then blow it out. Walk through your space, allowing the scented smoke to cleanse the area. When finished, place the stick in a fire-proof bowl.
Sage is not just an herb frequently used in dishes around the holidays, it’s also a potent healer. The shrub, whose leaves have an almost hairy texture, has its roots in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. There’s no shortage of ways to use sage: as a mouth wash, in tea, in essential oils, in bath salts, or in cleaning products.
“Smudging” is the practice of burning sage and spreading the smoke throughout a space to remove bad energy and encourage healing, and is a traditional part of some Native American ceremonies. No matter what form you choose to use you’ll reap a myriad of benefits. For those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia, sage can soothe irritability, increase alertness, and improve recall. Have diabetes? Sage extract has been shown to lower glucose levels. Drinking sage can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, thereby improving your heart health.
For women, clary sage oil can mitigate the unpleasant effects of menopause, such as dizziness, headaches, hot flashes, and insomnia. Finally, sage is good for your gut; it can ease bloating, stomach discomfort, flatulence, and diarrhea.
Sweet grass is a plant common to the Northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. Dubbed “the hair of Mother Earth,” it is considered sacred by some Native American tribes. Sweet grass leaves are traditionally braided and dried before being burned.
As its name implies, the scent of burning sweet grass is pleasant and its smoke is believed to promote calm, encourage healing, and invite the Spirit into ceremonial spaces. In tea form, sweet grass can relieve coughing and sore throats. It can also reduce fevers and swelling due to edema. For new mothers, sweet grass can cease uterine bleeding and help expel the afterbirth.
Always consult a homeopath prior to using plant medicine to determine the appropriate plant and dosage for your diagnosis. Plant medicine is meant to be a complement of, not a replacement for health care treatment. If your condition does not improve or worsens, seek medical attention.