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  • Whitney Joy Dunlap

My View from the Weeds: The Wisdom of Flowers and Three Ways to Explore Spring Plant Medicine

This post was originally published in HWBCO's monthly column, My View from the Weeds, for the Columbus Free Press, May 2019 Issue

The color palette of springtime is a delight. Everywhere amongst landscapes are bright, colorful blooms. On a clear day, the most vibrant flower can stop someone dead in their tracks. There is a reason why flowers are given as gifts or used as adornments for dinner tables. Not only do blossoms bring happiness, but they breed life; the flower serves as the reproductive organ for the plant and will produce seeds, if not removed. These amazing plant allies attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and beneficial insects to the garden. Flowers have a vital function within the ecosystem, one that binds all life together. Nature is constantly shouting out its wisdom. Within the story of flowers is a gift of understanding waiting to be discovered. Living in Ohio, harsh temperatures occupy much of the year. As the plants come alive again in spring, they teach about resilience and strength. Weeds growing in the cracks of the sidewalks or flowers in full-bloom are powerful reminders of the potential within each person to grow. Deep roots keep the plants alive during harsh conditions. Once the time is right, plants flourish and showcase their uniqueness through brilliant floral displays. Using that lesson, it is essential to ground into a rooted practice with plant medicine. Blossoming into an at-home herbalist requires curiosity and exploration. It is worthwhile for beginners to observe and study the plants that beckon. Spring is the perfect time to notice which flowers, trees and plants are speaking out the loudest. Each person will be drawn to different plants for a different reason. Sometimes it is overwhelming to know where to begin. The best way to learn is by doing and just taking it one day at a time. Three ways to employ herbal medicine this spring are through: flower essences, essential oils for skincare and detoxing with wild, edible greens.

Within a flower’s delicate yet complex structure lies potent energetic healing. When in full-bloom a plant is at the peak of its vitality. Each flower has a unique vibrational identity that sets it apart. For this reason herbalists create flower essences, a type of homeopathic remedy. The life force energy of the plant sends a message to the body in ways that differ from other types of medicine. The gentle properties within flower essences can help with: emotional transformation, breaking stuck mental patterns and confronting fears. Many local herbalists create their own flower essences. For more comprehensive information on the properties that each flower exhibits visit www.bachremedies.com. Another way to explore plant medicine is with essential oils. This time of year is wonderful for creating herbal skincare items such as: lotions, salves, insect repellents or natural deodorant. Many oils can be used to soothe skin irritations like bug bites or poison ivy. However, the use of these potent extracts should not be taken lightly. Due to their volatile nature it is not safe to: ingest EOs internally or use without diluting first; some are not safe for children or pets. Make sure to do the appropriate research and always use trusted sources like https://www.usingeossafely.com/. Lily Kunning teaches an amazing class on this topic. To find out more email lilykunning@gmail.com Last month’s column highlighted the benefit of exploring edible and medicinal weeds found in backyards. Spring is the perfect time to explore wild greens. Many leaves such as dandelion, violet, or purple dead nettle have detoxifying properties. Bitter constituents stimulate the flushing of toxins within the liver. Bitter greens are perfect raw for salads or slightly cooked during the early spring months. Other nutrient-dense greens like purslane, plantain or chickweed are wonderful additions to a meal. Sprinkle edible flowers on top for an extra fun treat and pop of color. Always make certain that a plant’s identity is confirmed 100 percent before consuming. Take advantage of a guided plant walk on May 19, if interested in learning more about plant identification. Email theplanetarygypsy@gmail.com to sign up. The members of Herbalists Without Borders, Central Ohio Chapter are here to help those interested in learning more about plant medicine. The mission of providing access to healthcare justice to those in need is the focal point. Any interest in holistic health is welcomed and prior knowledge is not required to join. The community flourishes when leaders blossom into their own healing power. Next Herbalists Without Borders Chapter Meeting Sunday, May 26th - 4:30-6:30pm Studio Creative, 757 Garden Rd, Columbus, OH 43214, USA Please RSVP here: https://www.hwbco.org/events/hwb-chapter-meeting-2 Whitney Joy Dunlap is a budding herbalist, plant enthusiast, green activist and freelance artist, living in Columbus, Ohio. Her latest passion is plant identification and exploring edible and medicinal weeds. View her botanical blog on these topics at www.theplanetarygypsy.com. Follow her on Instagram @planetarygypsy or email her at theplanetarygypsy@gmail.com.

Appears in Issue:  May 2019 issue

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We are the Central Ohio chapter of the international non-profit, Herbalists Without Borders. We work to make people's medicine (herbalism) and food justice accessible to all. 

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