Materia medica: introduction

materia medica n. 1. The body of remedial substances used in the practice of medicine, in this case, herbal medicine. 2. The origins and properties of these substances.

I’ll be doing a series of posts on herbal materia medica, where I’ll describe the properties of each plant (as I understand them). One reason for this is because writing it all down really helps me learn and remember stuff–so it’s at least as educational for me as for anyone who reads this. Another reason is that Etsy, where I currently have an herbal remedy shop, will not allow me to ascribe any healing properties to herbs, for legal reasons. But I can–and will–say whatever I want here. 🙂

Actually, I am coming to the realization that talking about the “properties” of herbs–i.e., what they can do for you–is less useful for me than talking about what kind of person or situation needs a specific plant. I like the way this shift in my perception sits with me, because now I find myself thinking not about “what plants can do for me” but about what’s going on with my entire self, body and spirit. (Of course the same applies when I’m considering how to help someone else.) I don’t look at the plants as tools to be used, but as allies whose help I can hopefully enlist. They seem to be agents in the healing process as much as I am–more so, really. But that said, each plant does have its particular strengths.

And call it the Doctrine of Signatures or whatever you want, but if you want to learn about an herb, I believe the first place to start is by observing everything about it. You’ll get to know it in the process.


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