For tens of thousands of years before modern medicine, choosing plants that not only wouldn’t kill you, but could cure you of ills was an exercise in trial and error. Thankfully some of our ancestors were brave enough to endure the trial and error process and record what worked, and what didn’t work. During this process some of nature’s patterns emerged like the five-pointed star and other body symmetry.
Turns out mother nature (Gaia, God…) provided us many hints as to what and how certain plants can be used to nourish and heal our bodies, this is known as the doctrine of signatures. The most remarkable part about DOS is that it has been adapted all around the world and pretty consistent from culture to culture.
Traditional cultures have long viewed plants as teachers and guides. Shamans and mystics use plants for gathering information. Plants are used in herbology and divination too. Learning how to tap into nature’s secret messages however is simply a matter of learning the medicinal uses for a plant you are drawn to then using the plant yourself by foraging, growing it or purchasing the plant in its whole form.
Although modern medicine rejects the doctrine of signatures, scientific research tends to validate its synchronicity. Modern science picks apart herbs and classifies them down to each chemical component present in the plant. As it turns out, Horsetail contains large amounts of silica, which is beneficial to the hair, as well as the skin, nails, and bones. In other words, it does help you grow your hair long and strong, like a beautiful horse’s tail.
Our Favorite Plant Signatures
- St. John’s Wort: is a mood enhancer, its color is yellow which represents the sun and our solar-plexus which is responsible for the production of serotonin. St. John’s Wort may also guide you to be the light during times of seasonal affective disorder or depression. (Beware not to take St.John’s Wort if you are taking any pharmaceutical medications as there been reports of toxic interaction – St. John’s Wort is otherwise considered a safe herb)
- Gotu Kola: a herb know for to help with blood circulation. The leaves which resemble the brain, are said to reduce and treat alzheimer’s, help with focus and much more.
- Horse Tail: contains large amounts of silica, which is beneficial to the hair, as well as the skin, nails, and bones.
- Walnuts: look like the hemispheres of our brains and contains the essential fatty acids responsible for our brain health.
- Almonds: especially once soaked, reveal what looks like our veins and actually proven to balance our blood sugar and nourish our nervous system.
- Beets: the leaves show up as red veins and the root vegetable itself represents blood vessels. Science also shows us that beets are extremely nourishing to our blood and circulatory system.
- Elderberry: is by far our favorite cold and flu medicine, its works wonders for us and how it grows in nature looks much like our lung avoli.
- Mushrooms: closely resemble our ears and brains in many ways depending on the species of course. Mushrooms contain significant amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals that are essential for our overall brain health, longevity and blood flow.
- Avocado: takes 9 months to mature, it’s shaped like a woman’s womb and contains all the essential fatty acids required to nourish a woman through pregnancy, post partum and your child’s youth.
- Carrots: a sliced carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye. Science now shows that carrots greatly enhance eye health.
- Pomegranate: looks identical to a woman’s breast and mammary glands and mabe be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer.
Elemental Guide to Using The Doctrine of Signatures
Some signatures are reflected in the common names of some plants whose shapes and colors reminded herbalists of the parts of the body that needed healing, for example:
- Eyebright: used for eye infections
- Liverwort: used to treat the liver
- Lungwort: used for pulmonary infections
- Spleenwort: used to treat the spleen
- Toothwort: used for tooth ailments
- Kidney Beans: Used to support kidney function
Some signatures are reflected in the plants physical design and ability to heal certain organs and body parts, by resembling the thing they treat, for example:
- Color: Herbs with a dark red color, like Sumac berries are associated with building the blood, where as plants with white flowers, such as comfrey, are associated with healing broken bones. The color of a decoction or tincture made from a herb can also be a signature. For example, the blood-red color of a St. John’s Wort extracts has led some herbalists to consider it a protective herb for women during their moon cycles. Colors may also correspond to the chakras.
- Shape: Walnuts, which look strikingly like a human brain, are in fact very good for brain health. They are high in DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid which has been shown to improve cognitive function and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
- Texture: Thorns, hairs, resins, and oils are produced by most plants as a means of protection and pollination. These variations of texture are indicators of a plant’s personality and health supporting capacity. For example, wild lettuce is a prickly plant used to treat physical pain and hawthorn is a prickly tree that can heal emotional pain.
- Scent: some plants, especially flowering plants, contain aromatic volatile oils. The smell of Eucalyptus for example, will bring an intense opening experience. Highly aromatic herbs contain large amounts of essential oils, which exit the body via the breath, helping to open the lungs and nasal passages.
- Location: Where plants live and grow shows a great deal about their relationship to that region. It also suggests the plant’s potential in a supportive relationship with the human form. Every plant’s personality is specific to the growing conditions it needs in order to photosynthesize sunlight and carbon dioxide into food. For example, nettle grows in wet areas, and as such nourishes our blood and urinary tract.
- Sound: the rattling sound of a Black Cohosh seed pod has a signature sound of the rattlesnake and used by the Native Americans as snakebite remedy.
- Intuition: ask yourself “what do I see?”, “How does this plant make me feel?”, “What are other things in our natural world that closely resemble this plant?”, How do the lines and shapes can resemble a body, function or animal? Take note of the date, time, direction in which the leaves grow, fundamentals of the roots, stems, flowers, and seeds. These notes can direct you towards the plant’s energy, and its possible relationship to the body system.
As always I am sending you much love & positivity on your Elemental Growth journey.
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