We live in a world filled with drugs. Our doctors prescribe us drugs to treat headache and nausea, viral and bacterial infections, pain, anxiety and mental health. We struggle together with the epidemic of drug addiction and the ramifications of an overly medicated society. The news is filled with stories about “big pharma” and the effects of medical research being driven by profit. Just turn on your television and you will see commercials pitching you the latest cure-all, “talk to your doctor to see if it is right for you” — do your best to ignore the laundry list of potential side-effects, up to and including death.
As inundated as we regularly are with messaging about synthetic remedies for that which ails us, it is hard to imagine a different paradigm — however, it is estimated that more than 80 percent of the world’s population employs herbs as their primary medicine. For as many as 5 billion people around the world, natural plant-based remedies are used for their chronic and acute health problems ranging from the common cold to high blood pressure and controlling cholesterol.
It was not that far back in our own country’s history that plant-based remedies were readily available and sold right alongside synthetically generated drugs. Big pharmaceutical companies offered plant-based drugs as tablets, liquids, and salves as recently as the 1950s. Even today, around 40 percent of the synthetic drugs on the market find their roots in the world of plants. The difference is that the medicinal components that originated in the natural world are now regularly manufactured by chemists in a laboratory. While there is certainly a time and place for drugs that have been born from the laboratory — so too there is a time for natural remedies derived from the earth.
The term “herbs” refers to plants, including grasses, flowers, berries, seeds, leaves, nuts, stems, stalks and roots, which are used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Just as the use of herbs in food has a long and well-documented tradition, generations of herbalists have preserved the tradition of harnessing the beneficial properties of herbs as medicine. Plants can be used to open sinuses and respiratory passages, stimulate the brain and relieve anxiety, aid in digestion and cleanse the bowels, increase libido, and ease pain. In topical application, herbs can improve complexion, heal bruises, relieve muscle aches and pain, and repair skin abrasions.
While the history of herbalism reaches back through centuries, it can be daunting in the modern world to find guidance navigating a return to traditional medicine. Fortunately, there are still strong voices advocating for the healing benefits of plants. Andrea and Matthias Reisen have lived for 36 years on a medicinal plant farm in the finger-lakes region of New York. Their goal has been to live a simple, gentle life as caretakers of their land. The Reisens believe that by working their land organically and biodynamically — being in rhythm with the land — they can produce the finest quality, high-energy medicinal herbs. They take care of their land and their land takes care of them.
On March 22, Andrea and Matthias will be visiting Fallon to present a free seminar about medicinal herbs and the home apothecary. Please come join the Fallon Food Hub and the Reisens for an introduction to medicinal plants that thrive in the Great Basin, including information about how to harness the beneficial properties in tinctures, salves, teas, and oils. There is a natural medicine cabinet right outside your doors, learn how to incorporate these life-enhancing plants into your everyday life!
Medicinal Plants and Your Home Apothecary will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 22 at in the barn at Lattin Farms.