Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Welcome to the second article in the Everyday Plant Medicine series! In this article we are going to talk about when it is appropriate to use plant medicine, what I think are the top 5 benefits of using it.
If you missed the first article What is Plant Medicine - click the link to check it out :)
When is it appropriate to use plant medicine?
We should all be harnessing the power of plants everyday! And many of us do in the foods we eat.
The line between plant medicine and nutrition can be very blurry… think about ginger, turmeric, garlic, oregano… these are all common food ingredients and yet they have also been used medicinally for thousands of years.
Anyone who has ever drank a cup of tea or coffee has experienced plant medicine in a hot water extraction and has felt the phytochemical caffeine coursing through their veins!
I point this out to show you that plant medicine isn’t something weird or foreign… it is an integral part of our world as humans!
One of the main things people ask me is about the safety of using plants. And as a general rule - plants which have been used for hundreds or thousands of years have an excellent safety profile.
**HOWEVER - if you have a serious medical condition or are on medication then it is your responsibility to speak to a practitioner before self-prescribing herbs. **
The use of pharmaceutical meds is relatively new compared to herbs - and you need to work with someone who is well trained in how these different medicines can interact.
In many cases, plants can still be safely and effectively used alongside pharmaceutical medication - but you want to check it out first to ensure that you are using plants which won't negatively change the way the meds are working in your body.
Now let's get into it.
The benefits of using plant medicine
Humans have co-evolved with plants and are designed to utilize the nutrients and chemicals within them. Here are some of my fave benefits of using plants as medicine.
1. Plants work with the body - They tend to “nudge” it in the right direction so that the body can better self-regulate
(Big shout out to Simon Mills for introducing me to the concept of the *nudge*... he's like as big of a celebrity as you can be in the world of herbal medicine!)
2. Nutritive - Plants contain nutrients that the body can use as well as those secondary metabolites which act medicinally. So you are actually feeding your body something useful at the same time.
3. Gentle - Rather than forcing or blocking a reaction in the body it is more of that “nudge” action again.
Often this means that there is no rebounding of an issue once the herb has stopped – the body can continue to do the work on its own.
This is a direct contrast to many pharmaceutical drugs – rebound insomnia, rebound reflux, and issues with weaning and dependency are common examples of issues found with many pharmaceuticals.
4. Powerful - It can feel like a paradox that plants can be both gentle AND powerful but many plants pack a punch and their effects can be profound and fast.
Anyone who wants to test this theory - have a cup of Senna tea tonight before bed and call me in the morning 😊
5. Balanced - Due to complexity of whole plants they tend to have less side effects than their synthetic counterparts.
A great example of this is dandelion leaf.
Dandelion leaf works as a mild diuretic, aka it helps the body flush out excess fluid through the kidneys and urinary tract.Most pharmaceutical diuretics cause people to excrete potassium. We need potassium for lots of important functions and so that needs to be monitored and often supplemented. Dandelion leaf naturally contains high amounts of potassium so it balances out. Amazing and sophisticated.
There are so many benefits to using plants as medicine - what are your faves? Leave a comment below.
Stay tuned for the next installment - how to use plant medicine :)
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