Help Flora Help Medicinal Plants

Medicinal plants need your help.

Some need help simply to survive.

It benefits them all when you help by spreading accurate information about them. The more people know about phytomedicinals, the more they’ll care.

The more people know, also, the better the chances that they’ll use phytomedicinals correctly. That’s good for both people and plants. When people misuse or abuse medicinal plant compounds, it’s often the plants society looks askance at–with fear, misunderstanding, doubt, or ridicule.

Remember, what’s good for medicinal plants is usually good for people. Here are some things you can do to help. 

IN GENERAL:

Join an organization that helps medicinal plants, like United Plant Savers, the American Botanical Council, or another.

Donate money to such organizations.

Know which plants are on the United Plant Savers At Risk and To Watch lists.

Whatever the specific issue, write letters. Influence your elected representatives and corporations to do the right thing. They DO respond to popular opinion. Ask your friends to do the same, and make it easy for them–provide contact information, ideas of what to say, even paper and stamps.

HANG ON TO HABITAT

Fight Habitat Destruction. Work for open space, nature preserves, wilderness, and rainforest in your town, county, state, or country. Habitat destruction is the number one reason behind the disappearance of species.

Rescue plants being destroyed by development. Plant rescues or salvages are becoming more common–when land is torn up for buildings, rescuers dig up plants and replant them elsewhere. The United Plant Savers website has featured great information about organizing and carrying out a plant rescue. 

Pave the way for plant rescues with developers and local governments. If possible, talk with them long before you have to take action. Educate them; get them on your side. 

CONSUME CONSCIENTIOUSLY

If the medicine you use comes from a plant on an endangered list, there may be another plant with a similar effect. Contact an herbalist or medicinal plant organization for recommendations.

Check ingredients on products you buy. If you see an ingredient that’s on the UPS plant watch lists, use contact info on the product to call the company. Find out if the plant materials they use are cultivated or wild-crafted. If they’re cultivated, great! If they’re wild-crafted, does the company or its providers harvest sustainably and ethically?  If the company doesn’t know, or you get the impression this isn’t a concern to them, consider using a different product–and let them know about it.  

GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY

Plant medicinal plants in your garden. The more medicinal plants we actually have in the ground, the better. 

Create a whole medicinal garden, and invite friends to spend time in it. Or help care for an existing one and introduce others to it.

Consider growing and making at least some of your own medicine.

If you’re a wild-crafter, or make or sell products with medicinal plants, keep the long-term effects of what you’re doing in mind. Maintain the highest ethics.

LEARN AND TEACH

If you sell or teach about medicinal plants, don’t leave out the conservation piece. Make sure people are just as aware of conservation issues as they are about how to use the plants.

Educate people about medicinal plants, environmental protection, and what they can do to help.

Encourage anyone who wants to use medicinal plants for medicine to visit with a professional herbalist or other trained health care provider and do a lot of research first, so that their experience is successful.

Stay informed. Support the spread of accurate, up-to-date information. Subscribe to magazines and online sources of information that focus on medicinal plants.

THINK AHEAD–A FEW GENERATIONS (Indirect but Excellent)

Use less paper. Use recycled building materials. While all trees aren’t medicinal, some are; plus, many medicinal plants grow in forests. When the trees disappear, so do the plants.

Eat less red meat. In some developing countries, habitat is being cleared for cattle ranches.

Buy shade-grown coffee and chocolate. It’s the difference between a plantation where existing vegetation is left, versus cleared land planted only with crop trees.

Recycle aluminum cans. You’ll help reduce demand for bauxite, the source of aluminum, which is strip-mined in tropical countries.

Use less plastic and oil products, including gas. Oil exploration and exploitation is another reason habitat is being eroded.

 

Bibliography

Conservatory of Flowers website

The Medicinal Plant Working Group

Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs. Edited by Rosemary Gladstar and Pamela Hirsch. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.

United Plant Savers website