Saint Basil’s Garden
“I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that wherever you go, the least plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator… that one blade of grass or one speck of dust is enough to occupy your entire mind in beholding the art with which it has been made.
The nourishing plants, which are destined for our use, are close at hand, and known by all the world…. but in creation nothing exists without reason, not a single thing is useless. One serves as food to some animal; medicine has found in another a relief for one of our maladies.”
– Saint Basil the Great
This is a short series contemplating the healing properties of several commonly known edible flowers and herbs (some of which we even consider to be weeds!) that grow in abundance around us.
For thousands of years, people have created herbal preparations to ease illness and discomfort. From the earliest of times, through trial and error, people learned which plants were supportive of health. Prior tomodern medicine, herbal applications were part of healing protocols toward rejuvenation and health.
Although healing by plants is not mentioned in the Bible, herbal remedies throughout history were numerous and common – but then, as now, our faith is that the ultimate Healer is God.
Many herbs and plants are quite easy to grow and can transform your flower beds into a healing garden. Several varieties of medicinal herbs grow quite nicely in pots, window sills or otherwise empty spaces. Many herbs with healing properties also double as kitchen staples, like oregano, rosemary, thyme and basil!
Everyday herbs can easily be added to or crafted into teas, infusions or decoctions. Cultures around the world have made widespread use of the healing, soothing and medicinal properties of tea. Depending on the ingredients, herbal teas can boost the immune system, support detoxification, enhance metabolism, calm digestion, support healing the digestive system and promote relaxation.
For example: it is widely known that chamomile soothes and calms. Herbalists (and American Indians) have long used echinacea as an antiviral to support the immune system. Ginger settles the stomach. Aloe is not only great at reducing irritation from mild burns but is also calming and restorative to the stomach; and of course garlic is known to ward off viruses, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and also has antibacterial and anti fungal properties.
Herbal creams, lotions and salves are marvelous ways to apply healing to your skin. The more natural the ingredients, the better. A cornerstone of holistic health is to be mindful of what we place on our skin. Despite being our outer layer, our skin is not a barrier, but is porous. It absorbs all that we place upon it, and so when we use chemicals and synthetic ingredients, these all pass into our body. With the skin as their entry point, they bypass the liver test. The toxins are not filtered and so have free access to your bloodstream and organs.
It is estimated that on a daily basis, women are exposed to many more toxins then men – in part due to our cosmetics which contain many chemical and synthetic ingredients – many of which disrupt our hormones. This all adds to the body’s total chemical load and burdens the liver.
From a purely holistic point of view, if you can’t eat it, then you really shouldn’t place it upon your skin.
Along with their nutritive qualities, fresh herbs brighten and and depth to our meals. Whether you grow your own herb garden or buy them in bulk, it’s easy and simple to craft your own teas and herbal salves. Even so, if you are not inclined to make your own, there are plenty of wonderful artisan tea crafters and cosmetic manufacturers that sell quality products.
Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food. Their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:12)
Common Sense Disclaimer: All information presented in this series is intended for informational purposes only. If you have a medical condition, treat it in consultation with your medical practitioner.