Sensory Solutions for Herbal Evolution
Welcome to “Healing From Within.” I am your host Sheryl Glick Reiki Master Energy Teacher medium and author of The Living Spirit Answers for Healing and Infinite Love stories that shares a metaphysical approach to understanding spiritual communication, healing energies, miracles and intuition for well being progress health prosperity and happiness and is delighted to welcome Fiona Heckels the co-author with Karen Lawton of The Sensory Herbal Handbook to Connect with the Medicinal Power of Your Local Plants
As listeners of Healing From Within are well aware Sheryl and her guests share intimate stories and insights into the world of metaphysical concepts, healing, and transcendence, so we may begin to understand our true nature as spiritual energies having a physical life experience who are learning to balance both physical and spiritual worlds. For in knowing more of who we are, we are able to transform ourselves reach a higher consciousness and explore ways for the evolution of humanity and the world.
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” both of The Seed Sistas who met on a Phytotherapy Herbalism group of study formed the social enterprise Sensory Solutions Herbal Evolution with the intention of cultivating change facilitating grassroots growing projects such as community medicine gardens. They share their love of plant medicine as they believe that through community cohesion and reconnection to the earth positive change will ensue.
The Seed Sistas friendship and professional bond began when Karen and Fiona recognized the immense love of the natural world they shared when studying together for a Bachelor of Science degree in herbal medicine. Immersed in nature from childhood they both developed a deep love of this beautiful green planet. Their questioning natures and spirit led to developing their own system of medicine and resisting the status quo. They learned to trust their intuition and to go against the grain or simply question societal programming that often failed to appreciate the natural healing ways of the past or alternative medicine which is actually holistic practices from before Western allopathic medicine techniques began.
Sheryl says she is much in alignment to working with nature and natural self-healing techniques since being guided to work with energy medicine or Reiki and as an empath able to often feel the emotional and physical pain or needs of people and receiving messages from Spirit through vision thoughts smells and tastes to help people validate their own life needs and journey and to help them reach for their spiritual gifts as well she knows there are so many realities and dimensions of life past the five senses.
As medically trained herbalists Fiona tells us something of the force of healing that can be achieved by exploring all that the plants have to share. As a collective of eco- pro-activists with a mission to reconnect us all to the often overlooked power of plant medicine she and others are trying to do this through creating community medicine gardens inspiring others to do the same.
We also know the five elements water fire air earth and spirit and the ever changing seasons interact with the human body and her book offers charts and a clear view of how we might use this information for natural healing. Herbalists approach blends science, medicine creativity, ritual, magic into practical easy to use tools that guide us to develop a relationship with plants.
Sensory Herbalism is based on the western herbal medicine tradition, drawing on tools and energetic language that have traditionally been used to connect with and understand plants and people. Western Herbal Medicine is a holistic system focused on returning a person’s health back to a state of homeostasis or balance. It has become a practice informed by rigorous medical training but sometimes with little connection to the plants themselves.
In Sensory Herbalism the focus is on getting to know plants intimately using our senses and intuition as well as the analytical brain
It is clear that plant habitats and diversity are under attack. Areas that can be harvested for wild herbs and plants have reduced in number since the introduction of modern farming practices such as the use of pesticides. Sensory Herbalism aims to encourage the rewilding of green spaces, to protect plants and to pass on knowledge that will reignite people’s interest in these most valuable beautiful and medicinally rich beings.
Working with plants is an act of political activism, a statement of self-empowerment and belief in protecting nature. The more we understand about herbs, the more we want to create the environments in which they can grow and flourish.
In Sensory Herbalism there is a focus on how we as humans can restore our own health by interacting with the plants themselves through energetic doses and through the growing and harvesting of them.
Sensory Herbalism also has a strong focus on creativity placing great emphasis on connection to nature or spirit through story telling drawing and poetry. It asks you to draw on the power of intention as you grow craft and take herbal medicines.
Sensory Herbalism is also about understanding the human body and how the elemental forces wind fire earth water and spirit –pervade all off life and are expressed in varying degrees in plants, in the seasons and in people as holistic organisms.
The Key tools of Sensory herbalism are:
- Observation through the five senses The more familiar you become with the way a plant looks smells or feels the more you begin to notice similarities with other herbs. Sight smell and taste give you an idea of the compounds within a plant. Great chart p53 on different plants.
- Intuition People often stop in their tracks to wonder about certain plants or a tree they pass as our primordial instinct may be telling us this plant needs to be in our lives. With intuitive knowledge there is no right or wrong way. It is about connecting to what you sense when you focus inside yourself. What pictures or words come to you? Tapping into the spirit of the plant and going on a journey of exploration can take many forms
- Interpretation What does it all mean and how can it be applied for healing. You might research what others have to say about the plant and see if there is validation for your own observations.
Some of the thoughts you might have are
- stem feels dry
- smells very strong
- smells uplifting and energetic
- clears my head
- tastes supper strong
- tastes perfumed oily slightly butter and is coating my teeth
- makes breathing deeper and fuller
- upward moving energy
- feeling my heart and movement of my body
- reminds me of a funeral when I wore a sprig rosemary.
- feels protective and lucky
- Characterization (personalizing the plants a very creative aspect encompassing stories rituals and folklore. We can recognize the qualities or personality of each herb. By personifying the plants it is easier to recognize and remember aspects of the herb more clearly.
- Plant Dream creation (weaving all the above findings into the messages of the plants for you/Plant dreams are a product of all the information gathered from the murmurs of plants themselves and encompasses all you have gathered through observation intuition interpretation and characterizations. It might include some of the folklore of the past. Tell us about these tools.
Sensory Herbalism draws on chakra theory as another tool of understanding the body and emotions. Understanding the ancient zodiac associations assigned by astrologers give us a sense of our body and its unique needs in relation to the world and natural allopathic ways to maintain health and balance.
Sheryl says As a Reiki Master Teacher compliments the authors on the lovely charts on the Chakras with Associations and Imbalances. Also great descriptions on Elemental Medicine including Ayurveda Chinese Medicine Western Medicine (the Four Humours)
Sheryl liked a way to see that there are multiple ways to connect with the divine to come to acceptance and unity from prayer meditation yoga tai chi to practical ritual such as methodical preparation of wood for the fire, to preparation of medicine herbs and to the ingestion of perception altering plants. Spirit is present in all beings and is accessible in different ways. It may be expressed as deep knowledge, as championing causes, as inspiring social change and justice, or as psychic abilities magic or intuition. Spirit informs our ritual practices with plant medicines and drives our connectivity.
In Sensory Herbalism, the plants predominately express one of the five elements and this in part relates to their astrological associations. For example plantain is ruled by the planet Saturn linked with the earth element…warm grounding generous. Plantain is therefore seen as a plant representing the earth element. Plantain as a mucous membrane restorative improves the stability of our own physical boundaries. Mucous membranes are a boundary between the outside and inside worlds preventing pathogens or allergens from penetrating the system and into the bloodstream
Each chapter contains a wealth of recipes and ideas for how to use the herbs both in the medicine cabinet and on the dinner table and Fiona tells us of that. We can refer to Bruce Parry who wrote the Foreword to the book and said, “To my mind the best healers and shamans are fully grounded beings who live in this world but can journey into the other realms. It is the moving between the worlds and finding the balance which is the real test and testament of wisdom today. It is all too simple to abide in one space or another. Everything can be a poison and everything can be a medicine—it’s all about context and degree, relationship and dose. Relationship is key. Plants exist inside of us and outside of us. Plants nourish and cure us, they propel and sustain us and also have character and are imbued with an essence or spirit just as humans are. Each herb is unique while also being a part of the whole.
Sheryl asks Fiona to tell us something of a plant that captured her attention, Daisy Bellis perennis. Daisy was the first herb that taught us to pay close attention to our intuition and also revealed that understanding the language of plants does not have to be complicated or mystical. Once a staple herbal medicine, its common name was bruisewort. indicating just one of its many healing gifts. Daisy had fallen out of fashion by the time we were training to be herbalists so we were not taught anything about this incredibly common little flower considered a garden weed. We decided to gather the delicate blooms everywhere and create a syrup and see what it had to offer. When tasted we discovered a sweet metallic soapy bitter flavor The soapy flavor indicated saponins plant constituents with an expectorant action helping to clear the lungs…(small white and yellow center flower growing everywhere.
The Seed sisters tell us that Daisy’s message was that it was needed in today’s society. One of its abilities is to revive our inner child; it is here to address the manic work ethic worry and anxiety that are prevalent in this modern age. With its message of play and be joyful don’t take life too seriously and bounce back from emotional bruising it became integral to our herbal blends. We created Drops of Courage and Passion Potion and set about giving drops to as many folks as we could at festivals and other events. People experienced amazing positive shifts and the Daisy Revolution had begun.
The modern pharmaceutical industry still relies heavily on plants, a quarter of all prescription drugs come directly from, or are derivatives of plants Some of the most famous are;
- Quinine which is used to treat malaria and is synthesized from cinchona bark.
- Digoxin which is used to treat heart conditions and is derived from foxglove.
- Diacetylmorphine which is better known by its trade name heroin and was originally sold incorrectly as a non-addictive substitute for the naturally occurring morphine in poppy plants.
- Aspirin also know as acetylsalicylic acid which is the artificial reproduction of salicin found in willow bark of the Pacific yew.
- Taxol which is an anti-tumour drug derived from the bark of the Pacific yew.
- Artemisinin derived from a cousin of the mugworth plant Artemisia cinnua is a potent anti-malarial medicine discovered in 1972
The medical profession and politics have always been intertwined. The focus of healthcare in any given country is determined by the ideals of the political party in power. With the rise in influence of drug companies in recent decades, the medical profession is often at their mercy. Much medical research is conducted with a specific goal in mind determining how and where money is spent in the healthcare system. Power is often removed from the doctors, and access to medicine is determined by the pricing of drugs and alliances between the government and the pharmaceutical companies. The aim of herbalists is to protect the earth from greed and violence by linking people with their local medicinal plants. If people can recognize and harvest medicinal herbs, a reconnection with nature develops. On the foundations of self-empowerment respect for the Earth and knowledge of the past, a whole new system of healing can be built, creating community cohesion autonomy in healthcare and participation in grass-roots activism.
Seed politics and seed saving are linked to herbal medicine and we campaign for the ideal of a medicine garden in every community a growing space filled with abundant medicinal herbs accompanied by educational signs to support everybody’s learning and connection with the plants..
Sheryl says..It certainly would be better to treat minor illnesses with medicinal plant therapy and energy treatments not running to the doctor for prescription drugs which have many side effects as we all well know. Our society has revered a nation of victims and illness and people have relinquished their own self healing abilities as well as political rights to the government and other authorities leading to less individualistic approaches to mental and physical strength. Moving forward we must realize the power as individual to make choices and can find many benefits to modern allopathic medicine. Governments dictate how we can and cannot distribute herbal medicines yet often these government themselves have little knowledge about plant medicine.
A whole plant containing a multitude of chemical constituents has a very different action on the physical body because all those phytochemicals work synergistically. For example, the herb meadowsweet contains the compound salicylic acid the constituent that aspirin is derived from. Aspirin’s side effects include corroding the stomach lining and causing ulcers. Conversely, meadowsweet is actually indicated for stomach ulcers in herbal medicine and contains other elements in addition to salicylic acid working in synergy to prevent this side effect.
Plant medicine is an ancient mode of healing with countless systems and theories and can be daunting to the novice Managing optimum health as a day to day endeavor adding herbs to meals drinking daily herbal teas and reaching for specific herbs when you notice illness approaching can give a sense of wellbeing and empowerment. Following what is seasonally available avoids cumulative toxicity or potential adverse health risks of long term use of any one herb.
When harvesting herbs it is important to recognize the shifting seasons in order to catch the spring greens the summer flowers the autumn berries or the winter roots for your medicinal cabinet. There are loads of different ways to try drying herbs. You can put them in the oven on a very low heat. Leave the door open so moisture can escape Can also dry them in a basket in a warm and dry place. Then there’s much to know about Infusions/decoctions tinctures infused oils syrups vinegars and oxymels.
Sheryl thanks Fiona Heckels and Karen Lawton for the most beautiful and comprehensive presentation of plants in their book and the promotion empowerment autonomy freedom and diversity of plant and herbs in a preventive plan for wellness and optimal health that they clearly share.
In summarizing today’s episode of “Healing From Within” we have tried to share the magic and benefits of knowing and living with the medicinal power of local plants, a respect for holistic and personal approach to our well being and a bonding to the beauty of nature and its ability to help us work with mind body spirit healing.
Fiona writes, “Addiction has a root in personal feeling of lack and inadequacy. We are currently seeing this play out in the death economy of modern Western society—in our addiction to consumption and hoarding wealth that is destroying the very ecosystem we rely on for life.”
Fiona and Karen and I would have you return to the essence of your soul life and discover the many traditions and ancient healing techniques that as they are rediscovered and incorporated into modern day life will help us evolve and move past the limitations of these challenging times to remember the eternal soul essence of our natural being and will begin again to restore the health of our body mind and soul as well as our communities and political educational medical structures for we will awaken to our true potential and shine the light and love from within which in conjunction with the beauty of nature is our divine truth and our right as eternal spiritual beings to live in prosperity and health