The Daily-Ness of Plant Relationships
I am an herbalist of simple remedies. Rarely do I concoct complex formulas, unless they are spawned out of pure intention and creativity. My journey has been one of slow self study, and more and more, on building relationships with special plants that soothe, nurture, or rejuvenate me.
I think one of the biggest challenges as an herbalist, is to not simply replace pharmaceuticals in the way we think about it. Many herbs have the same “action” but do not work in the same way.
Herbs have a synergy with the body’s physiology that is different with each person’s unique condition. Pharmaceuticals tend to over ride the body’s natural inclinations, where herbs tend to work along with it. This gives us more unpredictable but also customizable results.
There is such beauty in really getting to know a plant. How it fits and functions with your own physiology, with your body, and your mind.
I spent much of my early years of herbal studies, engulfed in pure excitement at all of the amazing actions of plants and disorders they are “good for” that there was sometimes lacking a depth to the relationship. It was just a shallow friendship that I “used” when I “needed” it.
Yes, there is also a time and a place for the very physical reactions we can get from plants and their phytochemicals and constituents, and all of that is really important. I love the scientific side of things, but the more I cultivate deep and meaningful relationship with different plants, the more I am truly healed.
For me, deep herbal healing comes from finding a daily-ness with consuming or connecting plants that benefit and balance your unique situation. Even if it is just one plant. Maybe just one cup of tea, but make it a regular thing. Something that becomes a part of your lifestyle. That connection over time is what heals deep.
There is a very physical aspect to this as well. Most herbs to truly be effective in the body, need to be in the body enough to really make changes. Drinking 1 quart of chamomile tea every day for 3-4 days will have a much more significant effect than a cup once in a while when you get really stressed out. Although, it is fine to use the chamomile tea, to calm your stressed out state, you may have been able to prevent it all together by drinking it daily for a while.
Or maybe it’s not even a cup of tea. Maybe its pesto, or an old family recipe with herbs and spices, or just eating something right out of the garden. Or maybe you want to try a bit of tincturing or make a delicious herbal honey?
If you think about it, we already have relationships to plants, it just isn’t always a conscious one. Maybe the taste of strawberries reminds you of a romantic encounter, or every time you see an apple you think of the time you made yourself sick from eating so many from your uncle’s orchard, or maybe the smell of oregano reminds you of your grandmother’s pasta sauce.
Or maybe you always felt safe and protected whenever you climbed and sat in a special willow tree. Or maybe whenever you go to the forest, you can feel the presence of the great grandmother pines.
Many of us may not have cultivated this kind of connection with plants, but when you start growing a garden and /or simply paying attention to the plants around you, the connection grows as well. It deepens the experience of drinking tea from a plant that you planted, watered, cared for, and got to know throughout 1 season or many.
I also tend to gravitate toward simple garden plants for my remedies. I love trying to grow new and exotic plants, but I take great comfort in having a regular supply of the simple ones too- Rosemary, Oregano, Onions, Dill, Peppermint, etc.
These plants are amazing healers! They deserve a bit of respect just as much as any other. Our human physiology loves these simple culinary type herbs that have been transported from place to place throughout history.
Humanity has always lived closed to the Earth until very recently. Our feet were in the soil, our hands reaching into branches to gather our meals. Our ancestors’ lives, literally depended on it.
We have to cultivate these relationships again. We have to surround ourselves with what nurtures and nourishes us. These are the plants that have been literally passed down from our ancestors. They saved the seeds, the roots, the stems for us. Let’s grow their great gift and remember the deep relationship of daily plant relationships.