Simon the Simpler
An Herbal Medicine-Making Primer
MY MEDICINE CHEST IS A COUNCIL of bioregions, with representatives gathered together as I make my way around the world west of the Rocky Mountains. The Coptis root was picked out of the churned-up scar left by an excavator, at the retreating edge of the Idaho wilderness. The tiny amount of Pipsissewa leaves came from an ancient grove above the Klamath River just feet away from where the District Ranger sat on a stump talking about his plans to cut it all down. I am drying Nettles from the California creek where salmon die in the silt left after a century of industrial logging.
Every jar holds a story (often a ghost story of dying ecosystems and places gone forever). I am honored to have known the plants in their home places and to have studied their uses as medicine. But for people not lucky enough to roam throughout the wilds, purchased herbal preparations such as tinctures may be the link back to this sort of healing.
Like so much in this consumerist society, it is easy to ignore the connections between a bottle on a shelf in some store and a living, growing plant out in the world somewhere. It can be hard to know if the plant grows a mile away or on another continent. There is much to be said for reconnecting, for educating ourselves about the herbs we use and gathering our own medicine when we can. That's how we will be able to build a whole new system of healing, one that can support our movement away from the corporate power structure that the practice of medicine has become.. [note of the author]