Physical evidence of the use of plants and herbal remedies goes back some 60,000 years to a burial site at Shanidar Cave, Iraq, in which a Neanderthal man was uncovered in 1960. He had been buried with eight species of plants, seven of which are still used for medicinal purposes today.
While medicinal plants are the actual plants themselves, plant medicines are preparations made from those plants. Plant medicines are the most widely used medicines in the world today. An estimated eighty percent (80%) of the world’s population employs herbs as primary medicines. And while drugstore shelves in the western world are stocked mostly with synthetic remedies, in other parts of the world the situation is quite different. Even in parts of Europe, for example, pharmacies still dispense herbs prescribed by physicians.
The proper use of plants and herbs is often successful in the treatment of illness when other, more conventional, synthetic drugs and methods fail. Plants and herbs can be used to cleanse the bowels, open congested sinuses, help mend broken bones, stimulate the brain, increase libido, ease pain, aid digestion, and a thousand other purposes. Topically, plants and herbs can repair damaged skin, soothe a wound, improve complexion, heal bruises and relieve aching muscles. Plants and herbs demonstrate great versatility for the treatment of a broad variety of health needs, including mental disorders and the balancing of energies.
The earth is also full of plants that contain psychoactive properties that can help us both heal from disease or injury and enhance the release of chemicals in our bodies and ultimately, for a period of time, change the vibration of our body. That said, these psychoactive plants, must be used under proper supervision or guidance as they can lead to mental, physical and energy imbalances. Many native plants, such as the cacao tree (think chocolate bar or hot cocoa), contain both nutrients and psychoactive substances. And some plants are multipurpose. Hemp, for example, is nutritional, medicinal and can be used to make industrial items such as cloth and rope.
People like to label plants as poisonous or medicinal (or simply “dangerous,” as in the case of plants that produce a “high” feeling). But the people working closely with plants have known for centuries that our labels often refer to the amount of the plant we use. As Swiss physician and botanist Paracelsus wrote in the 1500’s: “Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.”
Early humans also learned, in a process sometimes leading to injury or death, that many plants, used in specific ways and in certain amounts, could help them reach altered states of consciousness or explore the spirit world. Many of these psychoactive plants were woven into early healing practices, cultural and religious rituals, and daily routines to bring temporary but necessary bursts of peace or joy as the plant would change a person’s vibration.
One of the first know plants in the case of MesoAmerica in particular Mexico, was Cacao seeds (often called “beans”) that were eaten or ground into a powder and mixed with water and other plant materials for various health and healing purposes. Cacao was used to reduce fevers, relieve coughs, and promote weight gain, among many other uses. Without surprise, chocolate was among the key trade items at the main Aztec market.
In South America The Incas of Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador cultivated coca, The Incas and others chewed the coca leaves with a lime paste. The combination released psychoactive chemicals that relieved hunger, thirst and fatigue, a tradition that is still alive today.
Tobacco was also used in many ways, it was snorted, smoked, chewed, eaten, and so on for various medical purposes. For example, its leaves could be packed on a tooth to relieve a toothache, and its juice could be applied to the skin to treat a snake bite or get rid of parasites, it was also used to treat serious illnesses, including cancer. Over time, ancient groups throughout North and South America used tobacco as sacred offerings to their gods and in ceremonies and rituals such as tobacco smoke was blown into the face of warriors before battle, and blown over fields before planting. Tobacco was given as gifts or peace offerings in ceremonies. Shamans used large amounts of different types of tobacco to induce visions and explore the spirit world.
We are currently fast forgetting our past, our requirement to live in symbiosis with nature is being forgotten and we are paying the price. As new mental and physical health conditions arise so do a new generation of synthetic chemical drugs which are simply covering the symptom and not providing a cure. We are forgetting the fact that many new physical symptoms and diseases are linked to our mental state which in turn is linked to our spiritual state, the state in which we feel calm and without needs or wants or confusion. When this is out of balance, then the mind becomes imbalanced and then so does the physical body which in turn shows us by creating physical conditions, from rashes to diseases to cancers. We must give importance to this method of looking at ourselves as the current man-made system simply is not working. It is not ok just to take a pill with an active ingredient that was once plant based… it is not ok to not look at the underlying issue of what is your body or minds imbalance. We must evolve and the pharmaceutical companies do not have this in their business plans.
It is not in the interest of pharmaceutical companies to provide cures, nor is it possible for them to do so. There is no money in curing someone, but to keep a person dependant on a lifelong medication, will create for them a revenue stream, which in turn will keep them profitable and keep their shareholders happy. Furthermore, when a pharmaceutical company synthesises a chemical structure of a plant, it loses the life force, the energy, the signature, the vibration of that plant and in doing so cancels any chance of a cure.
Plants are alive and have their own consciousness, their own vibration, they are here to help us heal, to help us find our way back to living in symbiosis with the planet as they are. We must remember that we cannot escape from nature because we are part of nature. As plants and herbs are natural products they are free from side effects, they are comparatively safe, eco-friendly and locally available. Traditionally there are lot of plants and herbs used for ailments related to different diseases. There is a need to promote them to save human lives, to help humans to evolve, mentally, physically and spiritually.
These plant and herb products of today are the symbol of safety in contrast to synthetic drugs, which are unsafe to human beings and the environment. The blind dependence on synthetics is over and people are returning to the natural remedies and cures for mind, body and soul with hope of safety and security. It’s time to promote them again!