MHG Herbal Usage | gilltract
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Our Medicinal Herb Garden

Herbal Usage

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR WORKING WITH MEDICINAL HERBS:

 

Common, Traditional And Scientific Names

Plants in many cultures are traditionally (before the age of scientific classification, a la Carl Linneaus etc.) understood, recognized and “classified” according to their energetic properties and effects in healing. Traditional peoples perceive and discern the energetic differences, rather than purely genetic ones. So numerous traditional “common” names may refer to plants of the same “genetic” species.

 

Traditional names (“common names”) for a specific plant may refer to the smell, healing properties/uses, growth form, size, flower beauty or shape, seed characteristics, bark, taste, growing environment. Each tradition has a given history, some local and more isolated, while others perhaps more wide spread, and spanning many cultures. Traditions prior to, or unfamiliar with the scientific classification and Latin nomenclature, simply used the simplest appropriately communicative “common” name. Because of this, a simple “common name” may be shared by and refer to numerous very different (or even similar) plants. As such, it can be difficult to be certain and clear as to exactly which plant is being referred. To address this, Carl Linneaus developed the scientifically organized Latin genus and species designation for each genetically/ reproductively different plant type. Generally, this is a more specifically reliable designation; and thus is necessary for use in herbal identification and communication (at least for those of us with undeveloped energy sensitivity, and who are out of touch with our local botanical ecology and traditional medicinal wisdom). Until we regain a comprehensive energetics literacy, and a relevant botanical classification, “common” names are simply too ambiguous for dependable identification.


Bodily Differences

All bodies are physiologically, psychologically and spiritually/ energetically different.  Each has its own unique and extremely complex constitution and set of conditions.  The important thing is to discern your body’s language:  how the specific body, organs, cells, and energy feel and respond.  How sensitive (consciously aware) are we?   Every  body is different.  Just because something works for you doesn’t mean it works for someone else.  A given body  may be able to tolerate something in the winter, but not in the summer, or visa versa.  A large person will be different from a small person.  An older person is different from a younger one. A woman is different from a man. And a woman on her moon will be different than when not.


Complexity of Medicines and Healing:

Physiological complexity is beyond our “western science,” and beyond our wildest imagination. Don’t underestimate the complexity/genius of Nature.

Elaborate bodily experience (not abstractly calculated) has led to the development of complex formulae (including numerous plants, and in precise proportions) to fine tune the harmonizing effects of a necessary antidote.

Various traditions have discerned that medicines not only facilitate physiological healing; but also psychological: mental and emotional, as well as spiritual/energetic healing. Traditions have also discerned that everything in our environment: air, water, space, landscape, colors, sounds, odors, food/diet, movements, wind, plants, animals, sun, moon, plants, stars, draughts, spirits, corpses, electricity, etc., all interact with our physical bodies, our psychology and our spiritual life force energy. Thus everything falls into the realm of “medicine.” This understanding has given rise to various disciplines beyond the realm of plants; however plants have been used to address and regulate/ harmonize our sensitivity and response in all of these realms. And, within the physical realm, differing prescriptive dosages may be used to treat emergencies, or achieve fine harmonic tuning. More recently, in the fields of homeopathy and flower essences, it has become understood that “less” is more: “less” has a greater effect or potency.


Variation In Medicinal Properties And Quality:

Pharmaceuticals, while being somewhat more regulated (in some countries), are also subject to fraudulent manufacturing; as well as the whims of free market enterprise, and the politics of economic gain. While their targets are specific, they are refined abstracted elements: their chemical manufacturing process has either stripped away all of the naturally harmonizing life-force energies, or it has simply been synthesized from some inert chemical source that never had any biological healing life force.

Plants, on the other hand, in their natural state are naturally wholistically balanced with harmonizing substances, and still contain the healing life-force energy: “Chi.” It is this energy that encourages cells to be vivacious, restoring their natural flowing processes and harmonious functioning condition.

An example of this energy quality distinction is coca versus cocaine: The plant, chewed as a leaf, has helpful medicinal properties; while the extracted/refined chemical is an inert “drug,” the effects of which are extremely harsh and addictive.

Medicinal plants of the same “species” found/grown in northern regions have been found to be significantly different in qualities, and therefore specific use in treatment, from those further south. As well, soil chemistry and environmental conditions may significantly alter the medicinal/energy content.

A given plant may have roots good for the liver, flowers good for the lungs, and berries extremely toxic. The roots may have one specific name, the flowers a completely different one, and the berries still another. And, even the “toxic” berries may have an important use.

If a plant is harvested in the spring, it may have certain specific properties, while in the autumn, these may have changed radically: perhaps being good for one thing in one season, and the opposite in the other.

If the year has been moist/rainy, the concentration of medicinal properties may be quite diluted; or accordingly: if dry, overly potent.

In many plants the potent, strongest properties: medicinal or toxic, are concentrated in the flowers and seeds; while others are in the roots – especially in the dormant season.


Some Problems With Commercial Medicinal Plant Material

Medicinal plant material also comes with suspicious problems. Where was it grown? Or, was it “wild crafted”? If so, at what expense to the environment/ecosystem, or survival of that specific plant population? Was it grown organically? If so, according to whom? Certified by whom; and in accordance with what standards and definitions? Were these standards actually enforced? If not, was the crop sprayed with DDT or other toxic chemicals? Was it grown on toxic soil? Or in industrial fumes? Or with toxic water?

How was your medicinal plant material stored, preserved, packaged? How old is it by now? Is it actually identifiable? Does the dispensary personnel even know what the product is supposed to look or smell like? How do you know it is not moldy? Is it actually the material indicated on the label? Do you have any idea what it should be like (visual, odor, texture)?


Pharmaceuticals Versus Plant Medicines

Pharmaceuticals, while being somewhat more regulated (in some countries) are also subject to fraudulent manufacturing; as well as the whims of free market enterprise, and the politics of economic gain. While their targets are specific, they are refined abstracted elements: their chemical manufacturing process has either stripped away all of the naturally harmonizing life force energies, or it has simply been synthesized from some inert chemical source that never had any biological healing life force.

Plants, on the other hand, in their natural state are naturally wholistically balanced with harmonizing substances, and still contain the healing life force energy: “Chi.” It is this energy that encourages cells to be vivacious, restoring their natural flowing processes and harmonious functioning condition.

An example of this energy quality distinction is coca versus cocaine: The plant, chewed as a leaf, has helpful medicinal properties; while the extracted/refined chemical is an inert “drug,” the effects of which are extremely harsh and addictive.