By Ari Liakeas
Plants have been used for healing and medicine for thousands of years and are still used worldwide in professional medical treatments. Sitting in nature or in a beautiful garden with vibrant blooms can naturally uplift or calm the senses. Many humble little plants can hold great power to maintain health and promote healing.
Lots of our modern-day pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by doctors have come from an organic chemical compound found in plants before becoming a little pill to make us feel better.
For example, the Egyptians and other ancient cultures used the bark of the Willow tree for conditions with inflammation, fevers and to ease pain. In the 18th Century, pharmacologists used the chemical compound found in Willow Bark—salicylic acid—and refined it into what we know today as Aspirin.
The Healing Power Of Plants And Their Different Applications
So what are the different ways we can access the healing power of plants and their therapy offering capabilities?
Plant therapy comes under the category of holistic medicine, meaning that the various forms of healing look at working with the person as a whole. It considers the physical, mental and emotional aspects of a condition or disease, not just one particular ailment or symptom.
Let’s look at a few of its applications.
The most popular and most widely used form of plant therapy is aromatherapy. When we buy a bouquet of flowers and take in the smell of their delicate fragrance, this is aromatherapy! And having amazing smelling plants makes our homes smell heavenly.
We also bring aromatherapy into our lives with essential oils. The plant’s fragrant oil is distilled into a concentrated oil, so a few drops can be diluted in our baths, body lotions and massaged into the skin. Add some to an aromatherapy diffuser to make your home smell wonderful. Oils such as lavender, lemon and peppermint are mood-boosting and have other healing properties.
I absolutely love using my diffuser in my massage treatment and yoga studio. When they come in, the first thing clients notice is how great and uplifted the scented oils make them feel.
Essential oils can even be used in cooking, but consult a trained professional Aromatherapy practitioner as not all can be ingested.
Aromatherapy is a beautiful and simple way to introduce plant therapy into your lifestyle. Companies like Young Living or DoTerra are great for finding oil starter kits and information on how to use them. And books like The Fragrant Pharmacy or Aromatherapy – A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, Second Edition can also help.
Every keen gardener knows how good taking care of plants can make you feel. Watching a seed or bulb that you planted grow into a happy, healthy mature plant can be a very satisfying accomplishment.
Spending a day in the garden with your fingers in the soil can ground us and help us feel emotionally uplifted—gardening holds therapeutic power.
Gardening or horticultural therapy is now being used in different rehabilitation programmes worldwide to help people with addiction, depression and mental health issues. It is useful for seniors looking to stay active or people with any number of disabilities too.
Forest Bathing or shinrin-yoku originates in Japan and has become increasingly popular in the last few years. It’s not just going for a walk in the woods with the dog, but a practice of fully immersing yourself in the nature around you.
It’s about slowing down to enjoy nature as a form of plant or eco-therapy, being still in the forest, listening to the sounds, watching the wildlife around you and fully grounding and connecting with the earth. It allows you to completely disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life and our tech-oriented lifestyles that prevent us from relaxing fully.
Shinrin-yoku is a mindful practice we can apply anywhere in nature, even in the mountains or by the ocean. We don’t need to be in a forest to access this form of plant therapy, and anyone can do it!
We can often get overwhelmed and stressed in our “always-on” world. Taking some time out to smell the flowers, take a fragrant bath, tend to some plants or immerse ourselves in nature can really help recharge our nearly depleted batteries. We can also improve our lives with herbal medicine, Bach flower remedies and by changing to a raw or plant-based diet.
Most methods of plant therapy are easily accessible, budget-friendly and can heal the mind, body and soul. But, remember, when starting out on a plant therapy journey, please always consult a qualified professional practitioner to assist you and keep you safe.