Using Plants for food and medicine is nature’s gift to human kind. Unfortunately we have lost connection to the wise ways over time.
Convenience, lack of time, and industry/pharmacy are some of the reasons we’ve lost this knowledge in a time when we could use a ‘back to simple’ route.
Dis-ease is rampant on a fast paced – processed food – chemically laden culture.
Everyone is looking for a get ‘cured’ quick – one hit wonder – magic pill that will take all your ill’s away without having to change a thing!
Good luck with that. Snicker*
This is where the old wise traditions step in and we look at Little medicine’s and Big Medicine’s ::
it’s a term I came across watching a video on herbal medicine.
It really resonated )O(
These are my thoughts on it though – with the help of Susun Weed _/\_
The little medicines are the subtle inner voices that guide you in little ways to regain daily balance. It is the infusion of oat straw or red clover to bring minerals into your body. It is the garlic and ginger that accompanies your meals to make you strong and healthy (and taste great!). The cup of Lemon Balm tea to soothe frayed nerves before the stress of life takes its toll. It is the smudge you light to cleanse your aura of all the things that have settled within your circle. It is the moment of meditation to reach into the silence for rejuvenation. It is the salve or poultice that soothe. A plant essence that brings comfort to a troubled mind. Little Medicine’s are what keep us from rarely needing Big medicine 🙂
Nourishing Herbs are the safest of all herbs. They contain few or no alkaloids, glycosides, resins, or essential oils (poisons).
Nourishing herbs are eaten as foods, cooked into soups, dried and infused, or, occasionally, made into vinegars.. They provide high-level nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, proteins, phytoestrogens and phytosterols, starches, simple and complex sugars, bioflavonoids, carotenes, and essential fatty acids (EFAs).
Nourishing herbs are nutritive plants such as kale, garlic, dandelion greens, rolled oats, plantain seeds, blueberries, and edible weeds — the powerhouses of nutrition. Nourishing plants can be used in any quantity for any length of time.
Nutritive herbs are rich in minerals and vitamins. One hundred grams of dandelion (about ½ cup of greens) has 14,000 IU of vitamin A.
Tonifying herbs are like exercise; they include such plants as burdock, dandelion root, yellow dock, motherwort, ginseng, astragalus, chaste berry, schisandra. One of the benefits of exercise, of tonification, is that it helps us when we’re stressed. You’re not necessarily going to feel better if you exercise once for ten minutes. But, if you exercise for ten minutes every day, after several months, you will notice changes.
Big medicines get used when all the inner guidance has been ignored to change in small ways and BIG change is now needed, because imbalance is now obvious. These are the plants that assist in powerful cleansing ways to purge the body of parasites, cancer and dis-ease. These are the plants you cannot use for long periods of time because they hold so much power. They are highly stimulating and move energy fast. Like Uva ursi, Milk thistle or even Echinacea. These aren’t plants suitable for long term use. They are allies in emergencies and call in big power. They do good work when the rest of the body is supported to create such change. Here’s another excerpt from my favorite wise woman herbalist Susun Weed :
What’s confusing is the difference between tonifying and stimulating herbs. When we take tonics, we feel better and have more energy. When we take stimulating herbs, we also feel better and have more energy, but only when we are stimulating ourselves. There are immediate uncomfortable effects when we lack our stimulant, but no decrease in health if we stop taking the tonic. Ginger and cinnamon certainly have their uses. But they don’t build health.
Over the long run, stimulants erode our health. Nourishing ultimately gives us more energy, though it will take a few days to feel it, whereas the effects of stimulants are immediate. My apprentices drink two or more cups of nourishing herbal infusion daily. And after ten days, their skin is nicer, they have more energy and stamina, they stop craving sweets, and they feel a lot better over all
The Three Traditions of Healing?
The three traditions are ways of thinking, not ways of acting. Any technique, any substance can be used in any tradition. There are scientific and heroic midwives as well as wise woman midwives; there are MDs who are heroic and those who act as wise women, as well as scientific ones. There are scientific herbalists, heroic herbalists, and wise woman herbalists. There are preferred ways of working in each tradition, granted, but surgery is not restricted to the scientific realm, nor is a shamanic trance strictly relegated to the realm of the wise woman. To determine the tradition of the practitioner, we must look at the thoughts that lie behind their use of any form of healing.
Each one of us contains some aspects of each tradition. And these different aspects may want different things — at different times — or at the same time. The scientific aspect wants facts, the heroic aspect wants to be told what to do, and the wise woman aspect smiles and offers you a bowl of soup and some bread and cheese she made herself. As I define the characteristics of each tradition, identify the part of yourself that thinks that way.
The Scientific Tradition defines truth as measurable and repeatable. The whole is the same as its most active part. Herbs are reduced to standardized extracts; only the active ingredient is important. Healing is fixing. Linear thought, linear time. Good and bad, health and sickness always at war.
Nature is mechanized. Bodies are machines. Anything that deviates from normal needs to be fixed. Measurements determine deviation; drugs insure normalcy. Plants are potential drugs, safe only in the hands of licensed experts.
The legalized use of herbs in Germany follows the scientific model. Herbs are available by prescription and paid for by National Insurance because they are viewed and treated as drugs. Herbs are available only to those with a prescription written by an MD, who has received little or no training in the use of herbs, so the overall effect is to severely limit the use of herbal medicine and its availability.
Ready access to a wide variety of manufactured herbal medicines is a freedom that many American herbalists seem to take for granted. It is due, in part, to the strength of the Heroic tradition.
The Heroic Tradition is not one unified tradition, but many similar ones collectively known as the Heroic tradition. Predating the scientific tradition, the heroic view sees that the whole is a circle made up of all its parts — body, mind, and spirit.
Sickness is caused by pollution of the body, mind, or spirit. Healing is the removal of the corruption, the detoxification. Puking, purging and bleeding. Removing curses. Cleansing the colon and the aura. Making everything light.
We are all filthy sinners. We have to pay for our fun. No pain, no gain. If it tastes bitter it is good for you. Food is the first addiction, learned at the mothers’ breast. Control yourself. Control your thoughts. Control your appetites. Control you desires. If you want to get to heaven, follow the rules.
If you are sick, it is your own fault. You were negative. You were bad. You ate the wrong food, thought the wrong thought, sinned. You stepped outside the charmed circle. You need a savior, purification and punishment. The Heroic healer saves the day thanks to rare substances, exotic herbs, and complicated formulae. Powerful, drug-like herbs (such as cayenne and golden seal) and vitamin and mineral pills are favored remedies in this tradition. Most books on herbal medicine, and many on nutrition, are written by men of the Heroic tradition.
Wise Woman Tradition is the world’s oldest healing tradition. Its symbol is the spiral. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Life is a spiraling, ever-changing completeness. Disease and injury are doorways of transformation. Each one of us is inherently whole, yet seeking greater wholeness; perfect, yet desiring greater perfection. Whole/healthy/holy. Substance, thought, feeling, and spirit inseparable, intertwined.
Good health may be freedom from disease, but it is also openness to change, flexibility, and compassionate embodiment, even when dancing with cancer or healing from a serious accident. Uniqueness rather than normalcy. Not a cure, but an integration; not the elimination of the bad, but a nourishing of wholeness/health/holiness.
Nourishment of wholeness/health/holiness is invisible, simple, grounded, holographic, both/and, ever-changing, woman-centered, and compassionate.
The Six Steps of Healing
The Wise Woman tradition offers self-healing options as diverse as the human imagination and as complex as the human psyche. How confusing! We need a way to cut through the confusion and decide which option to use when. I call it the Six Steps of Healing, a hierarchy based on the concept: “First do no harm.”
Step 0 – Do Nothing
Step 1 – Collect Information
Step 2 – Engage the Energy
Step 3 – Nourish and Tonify
Step 4 – Stimulate & Sedate
Step 5 – Use Drugs
Step 6 – Break & Enter
Most of the time – the body is SO wise. It knows how to heal itself and what it needs to thrive. It knows how to create a new being and birth a new being without much assistance. What it needs is the mind to get out of the way for this healing to take place. For appropriate action to be engaged!
It needs us to listen to its whispers. To nourish it with food and plants to bring it into harmony.
Herbal medicine should never be about creating a ‘change’ or pushing a ‘change’ that does not want to BE or need to be. That is where Western medicine mirrors all to well, an ego’s self imposed ideals to what healing or health is. A focus on ‘cures’ and ‘symptom’ as separate while ignoring the ROOT.
A pregnant woman for instance only needs to nourish herself well. To eat clean healthy food, consume clean water and feed herself with joy. She does not need to ‘force’ anything. There are some women and midwives who try to meddle even if it seems natural, to make things happen that do not need to BE! There are no natural inductions, my woman friends. You don’t need to meddle with Castor oil or Cohoshes to make labor happen. Your baby will do that when he/she is good and ready. When the blueprint say’s “I’m ready!”.
Your uterus will also need no assistance, given you have nourished yourself and used only nourishing and tonifying plants as your allies. You don’t need stimulants to make it happen.
In some cases a woman may need assistance if her body is out of balance for regular moon time. Maybe she even needs some assistance in labour if she didn’t work on her mind and her fears that stall the progress. But let that assistance be gentle – because it also affects the baby.
In all healing work
in all growth work
in all initiations
it is prevention and inner work that are the Little Medicine’s that do BIG work.