The idea of being able to make natural, effective medicine at home sometimes seems shocking to contemporary people. However, it is a time-honored tradition around the world and brings the person doing it closer to the earth, the plants, and his or her own body and spirit in ways that go deeper than you might suspect. A few years ago it was discovered that when you put your hands into the soil, such as when gardening, there is a chemical in the soil that increases the serotonin uptake in the brain, a natural version of what a pharmaceutical drug does but without any side effects!
In a similar way, getting your hands on the flowers or leaves or whatever plant part is being used, often brings increased health and vitality even before you make something with it. There are an infinite variety of possible preparations, some requiring complicated equipment, or lots of money, or specialized conditions.
The plant medicine I like to teach is something that is simple enough that a child can do it, and yet, when you bring your loving consciousness and intention into what you are crafting, the health effects can be beneficial for babies, children, adults, elders, animals, and even the plants themselves.
I find that when I bring plants in from the wild it also entices people to want to get outside and “meet” the medicine plants that live all around us. That is a wonderful thing, as renewing your relationship with plants gives you back a vital piece of yourself that you might not even have realized was missing, other than as a sense of feeling disconnected, isolated, and lonely. Plants live in communities and they can help you remember you are part of a larger community of beings, in addition to human beings. This deep healing for self and community begins to happen when you do something as simple as taking a homemade herbal medicine to help you heal a sore throat or a bellyache.
*Sage infusion for a sore throat
Garden sage (Salvia officinale) –3/4 cup dried leaves
Honey – to taste
Lemon – to taste
Put dried sage leaves into a one-quart jar or teapot. Pour 1 quart of boiling water over the leaves, filling the jar to the top. Cap it so that it is air-tight and wait for 2 hours. Pour off the infusion, squeeze out the leaves (and compost them). Gently re-heat the infusion and add honey and/or lemon if you like. Put it into a stainless steel or glass insert thermos and sip it throughout the day. It works quickly to soothe a raw, inflamed throat and sage’s antiseptic oils also help to heal infection.
*This is not for nursing mothers, as sage infusion is effective for drying up breast milk. In fact, it is often used for that when a woman is ready to stop nursing.
Robin Rose Bennett, founder of Wisewoman Healing Ways – Herbal Medicine and EarthSpirit Teachings is a compassionate herbalist, gifted writer, and empowering teacher. She wrote and published Wild Carrot: A Plant for Natural, Conscious, Contraception, Moon Meditation and Ocean Meditation CD’s, and is the author of the well-loved book, Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living. Her forthcoming book is The Gift of Healing Herbs, due out March 2014. More on her class offering, here.
Robin Rose Bennett leads The Art of Herbal Medicine Making for Topical Applications.