Imagine if common garden plants were once again our first pharmacy?

This guest post is from Clara Bitcon, a naturopath and herbalist. Image used with permission from Sally Yoder of Natural Designs.

It’s not a radical idea. In fact, plant medicine is product development, refinement and research thousands of years in the making – and a form of primary healthcare that remains alive and vibrant for many.

Since the industrial revolution 250 years ago, the western world started to shift away from maintaining a close relationship with nature. We became distanced from the idea that human health is connected with environmental health and as a result the vitality of both have dramatically deteriorated. Another byproduct was that plant medicines fell into disfavour over the new powerful industrial drugs being produced (that need to be extensively tested on animals before being released). Pharmaceutical companies and corporate giants seized the opportunity to make their billions from this dissolving relationship.

Lately plant medicines have made a comeback in the form of manufactured pills, also largely owned by pharmaceutical companies and corporate giants. As with so many products we consume – supply chains are long, transparency is murky and the social and environmental sustainability and ethics of production comes into question.

The good news is that the most authentic, vital and effective medicines are not far away. In Australia, we have an abundance of locally available, non-toxic and cost-effective plant medicines on our doorsteps.  Quite literally! And it doesn’t take much to turn them into therapeutic preparations, just basic kitchen equipment and some know-how.

Herbal medicine has come through thousands of years of evolution and change with its tradition intact. Its potential for preventing health and environmental decline is huge and largely untapped.

Promoting general knowledge of the therapeutic uses of plants not only strengthens our connection with nature, but also supports local herb growers, empowers us to take care of our health without the need for expert advice on simple ills, reduces the burden on the healthcare system, decreases the need for medications and ultimately promotes greater environmental sustainability. Through using local herbal medicines, we can cultivate human and ecological health in a single stroke. It’s so simple. So sensical. So wise.

To explore this idea further…

Learn about D.I.Y Herbal Medicine with this great book for beginners and these recipes – all by Rosemary Gladstar. James Wong also has a cool book called Grow Your Own Drugs and a TV series. Watch it here. Check out some local herb growers, like Southern Light Herbs and Tasmanian Highland Herbs. Learn more about the local medicine movement by watching this film. Get to know the plants around you (this one’s Victoria specific) with this excellent forager’s handbook.

Oh, and if you don’t have the time or stamina to D.I.Y. – visit the site of this post’s author.


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