Working with Wild Medicinal Plants
The body is a holistic system endowed with an innate healing wisdom. Plants remove impediments to health and teach or remind the body how to function in a healthy way. For example, when I say that a plant speeds the healing of chronic intestinal infections, I am implying not only that it kills microbes but that it alters the internal ecology of the body in such a way that the intestines become a less hospitable environment for bacteria or viruses to thrive.

It is easier to maintain health than to correct imbalances. Don’t turn to your plant allies only when you are sick. Call upon them to support your physical and emotional well-being and to inspire greater balance and harmony both from within and without your body. If your torso tends to be cold and damp, leaving you susceptible to lung infections as the weather turns cold and damp in autumn, you can prepare your body for the change in season by taking preparations of sharptooth angelica root to stimulate the warming and drying of your digestive and respiratory systems. A regular course of dandelion root, Oregon grape root, buckbean leaf, or other bitter herbs will keep your liver functioning well. Flavonoid-rich berries help prevent coronary disease by lessening inflammation in the heart and blood vessels and may reduce the risk of cancer by protecting cells from free radical damage.

We often focus only on how a plant or other medicine can get us out of our current state of dis-ease, but plants are intelligent and operate in conjunction with the human body to support a full spectrum of healing. If the plant’s medicine is suited to your constitution, it will not only bring you back into a state of balance, but it will teach you how to embody the positive aspects of yourself that run along the same axis as the disease process itself.

Our greatest gifts come from our places of greatest vulnerability and wounding. Western pasqueflower relieves anxiety and worry that result from an overactive mind filled with chaotic thoughts, but it can also show people prone to this way of being how to sharpen their minds and help them organize their thoughts in a meaningful and creative way.

Remember also that working with medicinal plants is only one part of living a healthy life. Diet, exercise, emotional health, the environment in which you live, and how and with whom you choose to spend your time all play an important role in creating and maintaining a state of health.

-excerpted from Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants to be published April 2017