Animals have evolved in a synergistic relationship with plants. Our patient’s survival is ultimately dependent upon them. Their contributions to animal life are multifaceted: food oxygen, cover, medicine, and spiritual. Plant medicines impact patients in different ways depending upon the focus and intent of the patient/doctor. A weed becomes a medicine when it is intentionally applied, and the dimensional focus of the herbalist determines just how it will affect the patient.
The lower dimensional focus of a strict materialist determines that a plant’s chemistry will be the critical factor in rationalizing their treatments. The concept of “active ingredients” is a product of this treatment philosophy. Active ingredients have an established physiologic effect and are classified accordingly: diuretic, astringent, antibiotic etc. These active ingredients can be isolated, refined or even synthesized to treat various medical conditions and diseases.
The focus of holistic practitioners is more inclusive and they generally believe that a plant’s inactive ingredients have an important supportive role to play in a treatment.
Shamans, homeopaths, and spiritual herbalists focus on the higher dimensional immaterial reality of a potential medical plant. This subtle energy profile is typically called the plant’s soul or spirit and when used as a medicine is called a “remedy”.
The medical effects of a plant’s chemistry and its subtle energy profile are typically quiet different and seemingly unrelated. For example the chemistry of Aspen is an established analgesic but an aspen remedy is a treatment for anxiety/fear. Consequently a particular plant could be utilized as food, a material fix/cure or a healing remedy depending upon the focus and intent of the herbalist/patient.