“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
The power of plants to heal has been a focus of mine since I started studying nutrition. And as I started formulating my own remedies, I became more and more in thrall to the easy and accessible power they can wield.
Over 40% of pharmaceutical drugs are of natural origin.
The word botanical derives from the Greek, botanikos, meaning from, or containing plants. Many traditional forms of medicine from across the globe used herbs, oils, seeds and extracts from plants, which became known as botanicals.
Nature’s medicine cabinet has a vast array of widely used, and proven plants and herbs, that have been used for millenia to treat health issues effectively.
But as Western medicine became prevalent and critical for its life-saving and health-preserving discoveries, much of the traditional knowledge-base was forgotten, lost or cast aside as it was superseded by the modern approach.
“The healing as well as poisonous properties of plants have been extensively explored by humans for centuries.”
Kew Botanical Gardens Companion to Medicinal Plants
There have been records written in ancient manuscripts and the traditional knowledge that has been passed down by generations.
From Traditional Chinese Medicine, to Ayurveda the records from across the globe date back 5,000 years giving us a vast amount of historical knowledge on how they work and their effects.
The phytochemicals in the plants are where the benefits are found, they have adapted in the plants to protect them as they grow. And therefore hold a host of active properties that can be effective at helping (and ahrming) humans as well as other animals.
The hedgerows can provide you with some of the best, free and easily used botanicals there are. And there are myriad ways that each can be turned into a tincture, a balm or infused oils. A simple, no process way to introduce them into your life, is by steeping in hot water and making yourself a healing, restorative tea.
Start by adding into hot water, to infuse the goodness into the glass for the oldest remedy in the book – a healing, life-giving tea. It can be a ceremony, a digestif or a relaxing way to end the day.
A bunch of nettles, dandelion leaves, fresh mint can all be grown or foraged easily in the UK, and all work beautifully.
FOCUS ON: THE PEPPERMINT PLANT
Fresh mint has been used since the Ancient Egyptian times and more widely in the 18th Century in Europe as a digestive aid, and a remedy for colic, flatulence and indigestion.
They keep well in damp kitchen towel in the fridge, or in a small jar int he door of the fridge.
I adda few fresh leaves to a large mug of boiling water and leave for 3 minutes until the water is a mossy green. Sipping this an hour before bed is a nightly ritual that I adore.
"Mentha Piperita was reputed to alleviate diarrhoea, nausea and sickness. Peppermint Oil capsules are now an over the counter medicine to relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Plants remain a potential source of many other useful pharmaceuticals yet to be discovered."