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The Miracle of Plants

Jun 30, 2021 06:35AM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson
A brunette woman sitting in a filed of dandelions meditating (Follow)

For many of us, when we think of herbs, we think that they are simply substitutes or alternative substances for drugs. We have been programmed to think, here is the disease or problem and here is the drug for that problem. We also think, here is the disease or problem and here is the “herb” for that problem. When we think of herbs only in this “allopathic” way, we are missing the boat because we are missing the true miracle of herbs—the miracle of healing!
Plants are foods. When we use plants in their whole natural form, directly from the earth, we begin to realize that they are truly the real super foods we have been searching for. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, free radical scavengers, and antioxidants, and all of these nutrients are completely absorbable because they are living organisms. Plants are alive and everything that is alive has a spirit. The spirit of these plants came in this form with the intention of healing us; that is their purpose and their gift. They know what to do.
For better understanding, let’s look at something as simple as dandelion. Look at the nutrients in this simple “weed” from the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by James Balch, M.D. Dandelion is rich in bioflavonoids; biotin; calcium; choline; fats; folic acid; inositol; inulin; iron; magnesium; niacin; phosphorus; proteins; zinc; and vitamins A, N1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. It cleanses the bloodstream and liver; increases bile production; reduces serum cholesterol and uric acid; improves function of the kidneys, pancreas, spleen and stomach; and the list goes on.
Now, what happens when you combine four, five, six or more of these nutrient-rich herbs/foods together and make a tea? You get a huge hit of totally absorbable nutrients that is virtually impossible to obtain anywhere else.
Let’s switch to the subject of sleep: Sleep disorders are rampant in our society, and many turn to drugs to help them sleep. How can herbs help? Herbs look for and heal the core reason for why one is not able to sleep. If you come to an herbalist asking the question, “What have you got for sleep?” the first question the herbalist will probably ask is, “Why aren’t you sleeping?” If you have pain that is keeping you awake, then the herbalist might suggest something like chamomile for its anti-inflammatory properties or valerian root for its muscle-relaxing properties. If your mind becomes overactive when you are trying to sleep, you might want to consider herbs like skullcap or hops to help quiet your mind.
The healing miracle is that in addition to helping the imbalance (in this case, helping you to sleep), these herbs are so nutrient rich that they also help to strengthen and balance the overall body. Some of the “side effects” of using whole plant herbs is that over time your sleep is better, your energy improves, your hair/skin/nails get stronger, and your digestion is better.
Here are a few ideas of how you can incorporate herbs in your food for overall good health or for a good night’s sleep.
Pesto is a favorite in most households, so why not herb it up a bit! Instead of basil or parsley leaf, try using dandelion leaf. This is available in most grocery stores and is quite affordable. Simply substitute your leafy greens in your favorite family recipe with dandelion greens and see how delicious they can be.
When making up a big pot of oatmeal in the morning, substitute delicious chai tea for your liquid. Simply make a pot of tea a bit ahead of time (or even the night before), strain and use this in your recipe. Chai teas are chock-full of flavor, nutrients and health benefits. You don’t have to add any cinnamon or anything else because your liquid (tea) contains them all. Most traditional chai teas include cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, cloves and star anise, which have benefits for the heart and digestion, help control blood sugar, and much more.
Let’s talk about chamomile. There are so many options with this herb. Brew some tea, steep for 30 minutes, strain it, and add it to your favorite cupcake/bar recipe as your liquid. It adds a yummy sweet flavor. Sprinkle a few beautiful chamomile flowers on top, with a dusting of powdered sugar and no one will be able to resist. This is great for upset tummies and for inflammation. Try adding it to your favorite ice cream recipe for a gentle sweetness and a mild floral tone. Make a simple syrup with it and infuse it into your favorite vodka/adult beverage for a delicious sweet botanical martini. And for the kiddos and the summer heat, make a special treat of chamomile honey popsicles. Add a ¼ cup of chamomile flowers to 2 to 3 cups of boiling water and cover. Take off the heat and let sit for about 30 minutes, and then strain. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of honey (to taste). Fill popsicle molds and freeze overnight, or at least for four to five hours.
Let your mind go wild with all the possibilities that herbs/plants can bring to your food! Oh, and because you might be getting more sleep, imagine your dream world. Think blue lotus! More on that in the future—stay tuned.

Madalyn Johnson (left) and Kathleen Gould (right)

Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931, or visit or