Evolutionary Plant Medicines

Brian Froud Illustration of the Green Woman

Nature is not distinct from our beings. We are animated earth. All that we are is compromised of all the elements of the planet and this cosmos. Through our bodies a consciousness is dancing.
I have thought often on ‘who’ owns my body. Women often struggle with this in our societies. I concluded that really, I am not wise enough to own my body, I am too influenced by norms, expectations and my own insecurities.
I am too scared of being controlled, but I do not feel powerful enough to be totally alone in the responsibility of managing the body that I call home.

So I asked ‘who really owns my body?’ and Mother Earth was the one who answered me.
In service to her, I am singing, I am dancing, I am breathing and I am dreaming. I am experiencing all the wonders of real feeling.
In service to her I keep the garden wild and I plant trees where she instructs me.
In service to her I worship the water. I honour the fire. I return my blood to the earth. I breath in the scent and sentiments of my life giving companions.

I speak here of evolutionary plant medicines.
Yet some will be disappointed to find no mention of ayahuasca or mushrooms, peyote or saliva.
It appears to me that we are at an epoch of extreme bio-piracy. This is a time where the idea of healing is being associated with Amazonian plants specifically. It is only a matter of demand before these plants experience the same political and cultural conflict as quinoa and cava cava, coca and avocado. These plants are sentient beings and I respect that they have an agenda within their own consciousness. Yet there is a threshold of human interaction where eventually the plant and the elements that support it’s growth are no longer in co-creation with our species and are now experiencing slavery. And when the trend dies and we have ravaged the Selva for her magic vines, the desert for the buttons of the Peyote we will move on to the next exhaustion of the gifts of consciousness. We will remain irresponsible, unaccountable and disassociated from the garden that we paved over still, as nature and her gifts will always be the Amazon and we will always be the ‘West’.

Regardless, nature is not elsewhere.
Nourishment is not elsewhere.
Healing is certainly not elsewhere.
Our greatest healing can be in our own garden, if we can allow it to be.

The lesson of true evolutionary plant medicines is context.
We came here to grow and die like all other beings.
We are not machines, we do not need ‘fixing’.
Like any plant that struggles with soil and water, light and structure, we too can struggle in circumstance.
Plants and humans have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Where ever you are is now where you are indigenous to.
Your healing is in knowing that.

When you can love the soil that gives you life,
and the falling of the leaves
when you can appreciate the rest that winter gave, and angle yourself towards the light again,
when you can celebrate the rain,
and care for each seedling like it was a wish made by a child.
When you can smell the flowers and taste the fruits of all the plants of the hedgerow
and thank the trees at the roadside,
when you can listen and let life speak,
and care so deeply for all the you are surrounded by
you will never feel broken again.

These plants are allies. They are friends. They started conversations and relationships with me and I am immensely grateful to them.
They have helped me evolve through many things and just as I am in that process this list will be evolving with me.

In this list I give immense gratitude to my teacher Nikki Darrel of the Plant Medicine School in Ireland. A wise woman of the wild is she.

List is Alphabetical

Urtica dioica


The unforgettable lesson of nettle is humbleness.
Nettle teaches us the nourishment of simple things and the perseverance needed to be well. Nettle will teach us appreciation and acceptance that leads to release.
Rather than trying to resist, this plant teaches us to approach things differently, gently and to appreciate other angles.

Where nettle grows it is a sign of soil rich in nitrogen.

As young nettle arrives in spring, it’s sting is defensive and strong, nestled in short grass. As it grows it becomes available to us for medicine foods and in it’s maturity can be employed for compost teas and it’s fibres to make string.