Have you ever wondered why we divide the stuff that grows in our garden into plants and weeds? Why we consider nettles and dandelions unwanted intruders in our otherwise carefully attended flowers and shrubs? That we do almost anything to get rid of all those weeds from ripping them out until spraying toxic chemicals?
I won’t lie about it: that’s exactly what I used to do for many years. But as soon as I learned that nettles and dandelions are actually superfoods, good for detoxing and so much more, I left them alone. I suppose that was about eight years ago. That was also the period when someone I know suggested I take a closer look at the things that grow in my garden. That my garden is ‘telling me’ something about my health. In other words, the weeds that grow in your garden are there for a reason . They are there because they are what your body is in need of at that moment! True plantpower if you will.
To me this idea of nature ‘speaking’ to you is quite intriguing and I have been keen to learn more about plants and herbs ever since.
First a bit of history
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by all indigenous people, but mostly by Native-Americans. Their culture always ‘spoke’ to me. The way they looked and lived, their community spirit, their rituals, everything really. But most of all their respect for Mother Nature. Like all indigenous people they lived off whatever nature provided them with. They never took more than they needed and they didn’t waste anything. To prevent over-harvesting they only picked every third plant they found. And they too believed that our surroundings are ‘talking’ to us. That the plants ‘tell’ us what our body needs most.
Their knowledge of medicinal purposes of plants and herbs is quite impressive. They knew to rub honey on open wounds to prevent infection, they knew that chewing on willow bark relieves pain (a natural aspirine as it were). They used mint leaves to solve indigestion problems, blackberry tea to treat diarrhea, swollen joints and tissues. Red clover to treat inflammation and respiratory conditions. Rosemary and sage were considered sacred herbs. Rosemary was used to enhance memory, relieve muscle pain and to support the nervous system. Sage was used for purifying negative energies.
It is said that Native-Americans learned all this by watching what animals ate when they were sick. The list of plants and herbs and their remedies is endless and fortunately that knowledge is not lost.
Conventional or alternative medicine?
In fact, many modern remedies and medicines are based on that very knowledge. Plant medicine has been used by mankind for thousands of years. It makes me wonder what happened that today we rely on pharmaceutical medicine more than we rely on plants and herbs. So much so that we even started to call our modern pharmaceutical medicines ‘conventional’ medicine and the natural medicines ‘alternative’ medicine. Think about that for a moment. Seems to me that’s turning the world upside down!
Nature is extremely intelligent and for me personally the healing power of plants and herbs is intriguing and very interesting. It is the way we used to live until not even that long ago. It is the way indigenous people still live and we in our Western world seem to have forgotten about. It seems like such a waste and a huge loss. I for one am convinced that we would live a healthier life if we would allow plant-medicine back into our modern lives again.
Indigenous spring herbs workshop
As mentioned before I always wanted to learn more about this topic. And then recently, my husband found me a two-day workshop about indigenous spring herbs. Two days filled with knowledge of plants and herbs. How to recognize them, knowing whether they are eatable or not, ways to use them and what their health benefits are.
I was pretty excited about the prospect of learning more about the healing powers of nature in my own backyard.
The workshop was in a beautiful setting. Large greenhouses, decorated in a lovely way with beautiful views of the famous Dutch flower fields, the countryside and a clear blue sunny sky above us. What a happy place!
The workshop started with a brief introduction were each and every one of us explained what it was they wanted to get out of this. Most of the attendees wanted to learn about the medicinal powers of plants, how to make ointments, oils, teas, etcetera. My focus was more on how to incorporate these plants into our daily food to support our bodies that way.
What we learned
If I would get into all the details about the actual workshop itself this already long read will be even longer so I will just make a short summary of the things we did and learned:
- Herbal teas and how to make them;
- How to make ointments and oils from plants;
- The health benefits of multiple plants;
- To use the weeds rather than get rid them: those very weeds contain lots of good stuff for our bodies;
- How to recognize a plant and their their taste;
- The purpose of bitter foods;
- How to incorporate plants and flowers into our daily food. We prepared our own lunch with the use of plants and herbs from the garden. For instance: two kinds of smoothies, a salad, pesto, risotto, nettle soup and much more.
So besides using dandelion and nettle I learned that there are so many more plants one can use in the kitchen. I was pretty amazed about some of them! For instance, did you know that Daisies work excellent in a case of an immediate emergency? They are good for muscle cleansing, work wonders for your lungs, kidneys and liver. They contain vitamin C, calcium and magnesium and they look gorgeous in a salad!
The one plant that surprised me most probably is cleavers. The sticky ‘weed’ that sprawls around my garden and clings to your hands when picking them. Did you know you can eat it? And that it actually tastes quite nice? It enhances the quality of your blood and is an excellent herb to get rid of excess moisture. Works wonders on your lymph nodes. Now I am pretty sure that you, just like I did, rip them out of your garden and throw them away as soon as you can. I certainly won’t do that anymore; I will chop them into a salad or into a pesto of some sort.
I have always been reluctant to take pharmaceutical drugs, even as a young child. I will more likely choose to ‘sit’ a headache out. Only if it becomes unbearable I’ll take an aspirin. I believe that chemical drugs should be taken only if there is no alternative. A feeling that comes from within, my intuition if you will.
That doesn’t mean that I exclude chemical drugs entirely. I believe a healthy balance does the trick. I am convinced that by relying more on natural medicine, when necessary combined with pharmaceutical drugs would mean would mean we get the best of both worlds. I would love it if more people learn about the power herbal medicine. How to use those things nature provides us with for free.
If more people start to realize that plants from their own garden can actually support their health, they will most likely be inclined to take better care of their garden. Make their garden ‘greener’, stop the use of chemicals to get rid of their ‘weeds’.
This will not only have an effect on our general health, it will also have an effect on the health of our planet. We have to start to understand that they are inseparable. A healthy planet means healthy people and vice versa. Since for the past 15 months health has been more of an issue than ever before this seems like the perfect time to start. So let’s stop waisting more time, pick those dandelions*, put them in your salad, smoothie or whatever you like. Start healing through that overwhelming power of nature!
*make sure to only pick herbs an plants from clean ground, where no chemical fertilizer and pesticides are used!
Next time I will tell you all about the new facial products that I started using recently. Organic, free of plastics and other chemicals. Launched only a couple of months ago by two inspiring ladies. And the best part of it? Their products are made from vegetables! How cool is that!
So stay tuned. Subscribe to my website to make sure you don’t miss it.