Botanical Medicine

In the old European Tradition, herb lore connected plants to the cycles of the planets and stars as well as the seasons.

Planting and harvesting cycles were also known to influence the therapeutic qualities of plant medicines. Famous healers such as Paracelsus, Galen, Hypocrates used cosmology to select and appropriate plants for an ill patient. As the 5 elements theory today is taught in Chinese medicine, the 4 elements (Fire, Air, Water, Earth) were the basis of the European tradition.

Fire, Water Air, Earth were brought in relationship to emotions, temperament, illness and fluids in the body to different parts of the plant.

  • Fire: summer-choleric-yellow bile
  • Air: spring-sanguine-blood
  • Water: fall -phlegmatic-phlegm
  • Earth: winter-melancholic-black bile

The treatment of a person with a discernible temperament could now be made.

Is a root part of a plant more strengthening than the leaf? Or the fruit or blossoms vs. the root? Which part of the plant can better effect the system in winter or summer? A melancholic temperament is winter in Seattle would do better on fruit and grain sources to bring qualities of fire and air into the body and lighten its heavy “black bile.”

To chose therapeutic herbs today we mostly look at chemical constituents. The active ingredient is sought to address the diseased condition. People who work with plants know that the matrix is equal or more important to the healing process than the alkaloids or active ingredients.

It is important to connect with nature and observe how, where, when a plant grows to choose the mirror in nature to the lack in the body. The life force body of a plant is within us, too. Whether we pick a flower to enliven a room or we take a Bach flower remedy for our well being, both add great value to our lives.