How to grow your own well-being with herbalism
A holistic approach to illness, herbalism has been used for many hundreds of years to treat ailments using the healing power of the natural world.
So I sat down (virtually!) with sisters Karen and Fiona, aka the Seed SistAs to understand how we can use herbalism to grow our own well-being, strength and spirituality from our very own kitchen windowsill!
What are the benefits of herbalism and tapping into nature to promote overall wellness?
Herbal medicine is the oldest form of healing. Introducing plant-based nutrition and medicine thus harnessing their potential for health is so much more than just a tool for when you feel poorly. It’s a way of life, a direct path into nature. Observance of the change of season brings awareness of the circle of life and a deep appreciation of the green world around us – leading to greater happiness and well-being.
We share the same ancestors as plants. We have evolved together. This is demonstrated through the interaction of plant compounds with receptors located within the human body, compounds which can be almost identical to hormones or neurotransmitters. We are in essence made of the same stuff.
Plants and people have lived together, side by side from the very beginning, sharing a rich, colourful history. We are intertwined.
This is where some of the greatest magic lies in working with plants. The creation of health-giving life.
How can we use plants and herbs for spiritual growth when we may be feeling a little lost in the current situation?
Growing herbs is one of the easiest ways to connect with plant medicine and to empower yourself. From watching the first sprout of seed come up, to the revelation of leaves followed by the growth as it pushes skywards, is truly mesmerising. You can get very technical and complex about gardening but it can be extremely simple, just one pot with one seed growing on the window sill.
One of the most profound feats of spirituality is growing new life, taking dormant seeds, with careful attention and preparation to support and facilitate the growth of food, beauty and medicine is a deeply creative and nourishing action. Planting a seed is a ceremony in itself.
Can gardening and tending to living plants support our well-being?
Cultivating plants for food and medicine is one of the most positive and proactive endeavours you can take on. It’s so rewarding, watching your own garden grow, seeing the magic of germination in front of your eyes and having the bounty of nature gift you, your family and community with super health and positive connection.
We love growing herbs in our homes, gardens and community spaces, watching the whole process from seed to harvest and remedy creation. This is where some of the greatest magic lies in working with plants. The creation of health-giving life.
Culinary herbs are a super beneficial addition to any herb garden and keep you gently nourished day to day in your food. No herbs are really just culinary; they all have wonderful medicinal properties that can be linked in with support for differing body systems.
Culinary medicinal herbs that can be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill or out in the garden include parsley and peppermint. The following herbs can be included in your diet to support specific function and ease health concerns.
Please consult a qualified nutrition professional prior to making any changes to your diet.
Lymphatic and immune support
- elder tree
Nervous system tonics and relaxants
- a patch of wild oats
- lemon balm
The Seed SistAs homegrown herbal recipe to support overall well-being
Elder is widespread, found on railway embankments and roadsides, in hedgerows and parkland. This perennial tree is bushy and relatively short, growing to a maximum of 15m over a lifespan of around 60 years.
Known as ‘the medicine chest of the people’, elder is one of our most prolific and useful plants. For us to be healthy, it’s essential for fluids and energy to move freely through our system, but times of ill health can lead to physical, emotional and spiritual stagnation. Elder gets things moving again.
Her medicinal actions open the body’s channels of elimination, cleansing the system and promoting flow. The diaphoretic action (from the berries and flowers) relaxes the blood vessels and promotes circulation, thus raising body temperature and causing sweating, which is useful in the management of fevers. The diuretic action (from the berries) will increase urination, helping to detoxify through the kidneys.
Perfect for springtime, use this cordial as a daily drink, diluted with fizzy water as a special delicious treat, or as a syrup for yoghurt and desserts.
You will need:
- elderflower heads (a pan full)
- water to cover
- fresh mint leaves (handful)
- juice and zest of 3 lemons
- sugar (use your preferred kind or swap out for honey or apple concentrate – 1 ½ honey or apple to pt liquid)
- Pick a pan full of elderflower heads, just as the flowers are opening. Place in a pan with the lemon zest and cover with water.
- Bring to the boil and turn off the heat. Add a handful of fresh mint, cover and leave for an hour.
- Strain the tea and the lemon juice through a muslin and measure the volume.
- Add 1lb of sugar to one pint of liquid and place back into the pan.
- Bring to the boil and simmer very gently until all of the sugar is dissolved, simmering for a few moments longer.
- Bottle in sterilised bottles and label.
Karen and Fiona are the Seed SistAs, authors of The Sensory Herbal Handbook and founders of herbal education group Sensory Solutions. Combining medical training and years of clinical practice with a passion for plants and creativity, their teaching gives people more autonomy in their health by connecting them with their local medicinal plants and the magical nature of the green world. Find out more via their Facebook and Instagram pages.
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