“When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?”
I find it interesting that toxic plants often move into damaged landscapes. Some specimens are harmful to cattle or sheep who graze the land. Others interfere with industrial agriculture or threaten people. They all have the same purpose: stopping the source of the damage so that the landscape can regenerate itself. —Stephen Buhner
To heal means to make whole again that which has been fractured or fragmented. What Stephen Buhner describes above about “toxic plants” moving in where landscapes have been damaged speaks to the intelligence of healing herbs. These botanical plants have a living, functioning intelligence. As part of our Mother Earth from which our physical bodies arise, their energetic fields are connected to our energetic fields by way of which they speak to us. When we give them our attention, ask them the right questions, and then listen to their answers — which may come in the form of an attraction toward them, or even an aversion — they reach out to help us with their healing essences.
We’ve all had the experience, when out in Nature, of being attracted toward certain plants and flowers. Could that attraction and repelling be telling us something about the gift of healing being offered to us by the plants and flowers? Of course, some plants warn us to stay away from them, such as poison ivy or poison oak, if we have an allergic condition.
I love the way Stephen Buhner goes about introducing his clients to herbs in this interview by Akshay Ahuja in the December, 2014 issue of The SUN magazine.
Ahuja: How do you go about treating patients as an herbalist?
Buhner: It’s a relationship, not a technique. My clients often feel lost and alone in their suffering. They need human companionship and also a sense of companionship with the living world. If I can, I’ll take them into the woods and introduce them to the plant that will be helping them.
In my book “The Lost Language of Plants” I tell the story of a twenty-eight-year-old woman who was going through a messy divorce. Her periods were extremely irregular, with heavy cramping and bleeding, and her hands were always cold. I could see that her whole body was closed off, curled in on itself. Her fingernails were chewed back deeply, as if she were eating herself alive.
I told her there was a plant I thought she should meet. We went for a walk through a pine forest, and when she saw the plant at the edge of a stream, a kind of force drew the woman and the plant together. The plant was Angelica, which has been used for thousands of years to help treat menstrual cramping. She spent a long time with it, then said a prayer and asked for help, and then we went to look for just the right Angelica. When we found it, she dug up the root, which has a beautiful smell. On the walk back she held it close to her. She was already carrying herself differently. The healing had started.
She took a tincture made from the root, and within a month her period had normalized.
HERBS GROW WHERE THEY ARE MOST NEEDED
We are more connected to our immediate environment than we may be aware. I am convinced that many of the viruses and bacterial infections we encounter are an integral part of our local habitat — unless they are transported by travelers from other parts of the world, as was the case with the Ebola virus. It’s common knowledge as well that for every disease and ailment there’s a plant remedy in the botanical world. I would be curious to know what kind of herbs are growing in that part of Africa where the Ebola virus erupted. I am equally as curious to know what kind of herbs grow abundantly in my neck of the woods. Buhner addresses this subject in the interview:
Ahuja: Many of the plants in Herbal Antibiotics aren’t native to North America, Do you think people should look first to the plants around them for medicine?
Buhner: The book was written to offer alternatives to people who might die of a resistant infection, so I wanted to list anything they could reliably use in that circumstance. Still, many natural antibiotics do grow in the United States. I live in the Southwestern desert, and Bidens grows all around our house. It’s invasive. Sida grows along the Gulf Coast, and some Sida species grow in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They’re all considered invasive. In fact, the most potent medicines for emerging infections tend to be invasive botanicals that people are busy trying to eradicate.
These invasive plants don’t move into a region for no reason. Take, for example, the berberine-containing plant Phellodendron. Berberine-containing plants are used to treat parasites and infections from yeast, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Goldenseal was probably the most potent berberine plant in the U.S. until it was harvested to near extinction in the late 1800s. Phellodendron, which is a massive tree,is invasive in exactly the same range that goldenseal was removed from. And if you cut just one branch, you’ve got enough berberine
plant to last a year.
I’ve found that if people are ill, the plants they need are almost always growing in their vicinity. I’ve watched plant populations change around me in places I’ve lived for thirty-some years, and they seem to shift in response to changes in my own disease complexes. This sounds airy-fairy to the Western reductive mind-set, but people have been commenting on it since Hippocrates. Plant populations rise and fall according to the needs of the ecosystem in which they grow, and that includes the animal life there, which includes us.
Ahuja: Yet we act to remove invasive plants from ecosystems.
Buhner: Yes, these plants are seen as alien invaders…. It‘s not understood that dandelion and burdock and a host of other common plants are non-natives that moved in and established a balance with local ecosystems, or that many of the plants targeted for eradication happen to be effective against the exact diseases that local people are contracting. Japanese knotweed is invasive all up and down the East Coast, and its root is the most specific medicine there is for the treatment of Lyme disease. There‘s a Lonicera species – a honeysuckle that reduces mosquito egg–laying wherever it grows. The mosquitoes that it discourages happen to carry dengue fever and a number of other viruses that cause encephalitis – inflammation of the brain. And it turns out that the plant is also a treatment for inflammation in the central nervous system.When plants move into an ecosystem, they do so because the ecosystem has been disrupted. The problem is that people don‘t ask, Why is this plant here?
Buhner offers suggestions on treating specific health conditions which I thought my readers would find helpful.
Aruja: My father is around sixty. I don‘t think he could imagine being without his daily blood-pressure pills. What are some alternative treatments for his condition?
Buhner: Regular fasting will lower blood pressure and keep it low. Certain kinds of simple, focused meditation will lower it. And many herbs, such as hawthorn and garlic, will do the same.
Ahuja: Have you worked much with cancer?
Buhner: I haven‘t. The only type I have regularly treated is skin cancer, usually on the face. I learned the use of a traditional herb for it from a Mexican curandera many years ago. The root of Swertia radiata – also known as monument plant or green gentian – is finely powdered, then mixed with Vaseline (nothing else will do) and applied to the cancer. It‘s left covered for three days. Once the bandage is removed, the cancer generally comes with it or lifts off with minimal effort. I have never had that treatment fail. It is easy, efficient, and noninvasive. . . .
I apologize for the lengthy excerpts, but I wanted to share with you the spirit and energy of the interview as well as the content, which sometimes direct quotes best convey. We will explore some of the more specific uses of healing herbs in the next post. Until then, here’s to your health and haling . . . naturally!
Anthony Palombo, DC
Visit my HealingTones.org blog for inspiring articles on various topics. Current theme is “Golden Age and Golden Race.”
Also visit Laurence Layne’s Herb Shop online at HerbShop.HealingWatersClinic.com for great information about herbs along with easy ordering of products.
Credits: The picture above is by Roger Davies and is used in the article in The SUN which I am referencing.
CAUTION: Herbs are powerful natural medicines and should not be used indiscriminately. None of the above information should be construed to diagnose or treat any disease nor to preclude sensible medical care and professional supervision. Medi-Herb and Standard Process products are only available through licensed physicians and certified healthcare professionals and should only be used under the supervision of an certified herbalist or healthcare practitioner.