I have heard herbalists claim on several podcasts now that they find certain herbs that will help certain diseases around people's houses with those exact diseases. So lets say someone is having lots of problems with their liver, you might find herbs that will help cleanse the liver. I could see many reasons for this to be true, mutual benefits for both the plant and the user. I mean, the plants gets noticed and will be propagated. This will most likely mean it gets to pass on its genes more effectively. The user of the plant gets to live a healthier life and also spreading its genes better. Sounds reasonable to me. But how would this work?
I know plants can suss out intelligently where and in which direction to grow roots so they don't compete too much with other plants. Or in which direction to grow for optimal light, or even to release pheromones that will attract the animal that predates on a organism that will eat them. But this 'associative herbal behavior' is a new one to me
As a beginning 'believer' in the Gaia theory, I can imagine this to be true... The problem I have is that my right brain is going 'uhuh, uhuh' and nodding. My left brain isn't buying it though, and it wants some proof for this.
Do people here know about these kinds of occurrences and do you have some studies or websites on this?
With love for the Earth,
When i am stuffed up and can't breath well all I want is eucalyptus since it will be the only thing i can smell at the same time and we might want a salty chicken broth since salty is all we can taste.
as for the plant side of the question I only know anecdote......I do feel like plants have been stalking me!
I have been stressed out this last year since a surgery that I had in 2010. maybe depressed at the same time. This spring I kept walking past this giant comfrey bush and FEELING like it must be special because it looks so different than the rest of the woods on the edge of my yard. I had to figure out what it was.
Then later I found a small cluster of cammomile growing next to my patio in the rocks. I thought "I am going to save this and transplant it to my herb garden". My Husband notices and tells me that we have a bunch in the drive way. I then realize that I have a 50 yard landing strip of solid cammomile. Our driveway had been redone and this was the first thing to grow in this year!
What would a herbalist recomend to a stressed out and sad Lady? Maybe Comfrey and cammomile tea! I honestly felt like the plants were trying to physically reach out and grab me "Hello...we are right here! you need us"
the comfrey and cammomile tea tastes so sweet to me, it totaly hits the spot! Just what I needed.
I now ask myself often. "o I love gardening because of all that I can grow -OR- Do these plants want to grow because they love me"? I too have a hard time getting both right and left brain wrapped around that :0)
I love the questions you ask.
If you haven't read Stephen Buhner's, The Lost Language of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines for Life on Earth, I recommend it.
Among the many things he says which I find so compelling:
He asks how did the indigenous ancient people know that a certain herb, eg feverfew, was good for a certain condition, headache?
He says imagine someone has a headache - do they try 100 herbs until they find one that works? Or do they have a way of "knowing" which we have lost?
many thought-provoking ideas...
Thats the kind of information I was looking for!
Yay! I will have to buy that book now. Dang, another book to absorb. So many good books!
On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life
oh, no, another one I must have: Sacred Plant Medicine:
Explorations in Indigenous Herbalism
One Spirit Many Peoples:
A Manifesto for Earth Spirituality
all his books can be bought here:
thus not using the amazon behemoth.
Paleo Gardener wrote:
Remember not to neglect the simplest explanation: people are more likely to notice something if they are looking for it. If an herbalist knew someone needed certain herbs, they would be guaranteed to notice those herbs growing nearby.
Yes, confirmation bias may at work, but I don't believe that is all...
I honestly felt like the plants were trying to physically reach out and grab me "Hello...we are right here! you need us"
I was taught an Anishinabeg (aka - Chippewa/Ojibway) creation story believed to be thousands of years old. To sum it up, at one time humans, plants and animals lived in harmony and all spoke the same language. When the people were hungry, the animals would offer their body and say, "use my flesh to nourish yours" When the people were sick, the plants would call out, "Take my body and use it for medicine. I'm good for that condition..."
Later on, of course, people got greedy. They started taking more than what they needed, they took without asking and they forgot to give thanks for what they received. Eventually the plants and animals each held their own councils and chose to withdraw from the humans. The animals chose to run and hide. The plants grew thorns, developed toxins or bitter tastes, became fibrous, or grew only far from the villages. Most of all, they stopped calling out and offering themselves to the humans, so the humans became weak and sick.
Of course, all is not lost and those willing to be respectful, listen, pay attention and express gratitude may still be able to understand the language of the plant people.