What is the first thing we do when we need something in this day and age? We go to a shop and buy it to instantly satisfy our needs: The biggest difficulty is in finding a parking space as close as possible to the supermarket.
Do you ever wonder where all these goods comes from? Who produced them? How was it made? What ingredients or raw materials were used? I’m afraid that the answer to most of these questions is “no.” As long as it is tasty (read “sweet”), chic, cheap and has a shiny pretty packaging, we prefer not to ask ourselves too many questions.
As a child, I spent many summers in a small village of Cantabria (Spain). Living in Madrid, these summer holidays were our only contact with country life. Cows provided fresh milk and cheese that were harvested, prepared on the farm, and sent straight to the table. Lemons were freshly harvested and made into the best lemonade I have ever tasted. We discovered insects of various kinds, climbed trees, and picked worms at low tide to go fishing. We discovered stinging plants and plants that alleviated rashes, and we made compote from fresh pears and apples.
Without knowing how or why, that simple life gave us an overwhelming feeling of happiness, harmony and wellbeing. Back in the maelstrom of the Madrid, everything went back to the hectic “normal.” However, the seeds were planted to germinate later.
Over the years I have been asking myself lots of questions about the “modern” way of life and the way humans consume. And if there was one person who has answered lots of these questions and who convinced me to change the course of my life, it was definitely the shaman Anishnabe Louise Wawatie, to which I dedicated a post on my first blog (Más Verde en tu Vida) after her death two years ago. Here I share a brief excerpt of it:
One of the happiest moments of my life was that first day we went out together in the early morning into the forest. We collected all kinds of medicinal plants used by your people (Anishnab First Nation) for generations, and you explained to me their traditional applications. We healed wounds and infections with them, purified the air, healed various ailments, relieved mosquito bites, and found many other uses with these plants. You showed me how maple sap is extracted to make the famous Canadian maple syrup, and you taught me which wood is best to make arrows. I had wished that time had not passed, and I could listen to your voice forever, learning from your stories, your legends, and your teachings forever.
Since that moment, it became obvious to me that we are rapidly losing vital ancient knowledge, and with it, our freedom. We are leaving most of the power in the hands of big corporations, supermarkets and Big Pharma instead of seizing that power of knowledge and making our purchases based on our own informed decisions.
This realization led me to learn about medicinal plants. My goal was to:
- Feel the freedom of being able to prepare my own remedies.
- Recover creativity that has laid dormant because of lack of time and awareness .
- Ignore the marketing machine of the supermarkets and drug companies who are in charge of deciding what to sell us.
- Learn the traditional knowledge of our ancestors from our parents and grandparents, and pass this knowledge down to the next generation. This knowledge is essential in preserving our freedom and self-sufficiency.
Today you (and even a four-year-old) are convinced that Mr. Google, Facebook and Youtube have all the answers to everything you need to know.
But do you know what to do when you burn your finger or have a deep cut or mosquito bite? Do you know there is a delicious free meal of plants and herbs waiting for you in the woods, and yes, even in your own garden? Most of us do not. And it’s not because of lack of interest. Children are fascinated by nature, and still feel very close to it. Adults also feel instant relief when reconnecting with nature.
Learning about medicinal plants allows you to:
- Take care of yourself and your family. Minor ailments are very easy to deal with using plants: colds, sore throat, stomach pain, burns, cuts, bites, warts, etc.
- Be more creative. When you start working with plants and natural raw materials you discover the endless possibilities of textures and aromas. You just won’t be able to stop exploring and experimenting!
- Feel free. Lack of knowledge enslaves us. It means that we have to do with what others have decided for us. When you have a knowledge of medicinal plants, you decide. You know what works for you, how to prepare it, and how to take it.
- Feel in harmony. Closing the door of your house and your body to chemicals and synthetic products gives you harmony. You feel how plants can be caring, healing, and nurturing. Sometimes, it can seem so magical! I still remember that first nettle sting rash, relieved by using mint. It was magic! It was pure harmony!
- Economize. Really! Preparing your own plant products is cheap, even when using high-quality raw materials. You will quickly realize that you do not need even half of the pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, hygiene and cleaning products you have been using up until now.
- Rewild. Knowing about plants is essential to recovering your natural state. Plants do help you to rebalance, reconnect with nature, and facilitate the optimal functioning of our body.
Medicinal plants have been here since our first appearance on this Earth to help us with various sicknesses and injuries. Let’s stop ignoring the benefits of medicinal plants!
Summer is a good time to venture into this fabulous world of plants. Do you know how to use medicinal plants? How many do you know? Do you know where and when to harvest them? How do you use them?