Listen to the Plants, They May Have the Answer

On my way home from church, I was privileged to drive by the woods of one of the farmers who lives in the neighborhood. He had tapped the maples to catch their sap to make maple syrup. What a painstaking process it is to make maple syrup. It takes 20.5   gallons of sap to make 2 pints of maple syrup. The sap is boiled down to make pure maple syrup. Interestingly for me, this week in Breaking Christian News they wrote about the amazing compounds in maple syrup that have resulted from that long boiling down process.

On March 30 University of Rhode Island (URI) assistant pharmacy professor, Navinda Seeram, told scientists at the 241st American Chemical Society’s National Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. that his URI team has now isolated and identified 54 beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup from Quebec, five of which have never been seen in nature.

“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it,” Seeram said….”We know that the compounds are anti-inflammatory agents and that inflammation has been implicated in several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s,” Seeram said. The scientists have found that maple syrup phenolics, the beneficial anti-oxidant compounds, inhibit two carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes that are relevant to Type 2 diabetes management. Could it be that a sweetener may be instrumental in the battle against diabetes?

As I looked at the trees and saw the footprints in the snow leading to the trees, I thought about how many of the answers to human needs are all around us. In the case of medicinals, I believe the answer to every disease is encased somewhere in nature. This idea is an ancient one and found in cultures all over the world. In Western Civilization, we have the Doctrine of Signatures, the idea that God has marked everything He created with a sign (signature) that was an indication of the purpose for the creation of the item. The Doctrine of Signatures boasts such followers as Pedanius Dioscorides (circa 40—90 AD) a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist who wrote a 5-volume encyclopedia, De Materia Medica (“Regarding Medical Materials”), about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances. Physician surgeon, Galen (September AD 129 – 199/217) also espoused it. In the 16th century the Doctrine was developed by Paracelsus (1491–1541), a Renaissance  physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer and occultist, and published in his writings as he travelled the world treating people with plants. The “Doctrine of Signatures” was popularized in the early 1600s by the writings of Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), a master shoemaker in the small town of Görlitz, Germany. At the age of 25, Böhme had a profound mystical vision in which he saw the relationship between God and man. As a result of the vision, he wrote “Signatura Rerum; The Signature of all Things”. His book espoused a spiritual philosophy; however it soon was adopted for its medical application.

Today, the Doctrine of Signatures is thought by many to be mere superstition. I’m not willing to concede that. I had the distinct pleasure in 2003 to be in Belize, Central America when the American Botanical Society was meeting with Rosita Arvigo, an American woman who studied with a centenarian Maya shaman to investigate plants that the shaman said had healing properties. The shaman firmly believed in the Doctrine of Signatures and used its philosophy to guide the plants he used in his practice. The American botanists were amazed at the discoveries they were able to make based on the old shaman’s advice. You can read the whole story in Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer by Rosita Arvigo. God is speaking, guiding, pointing, we simply must listen.

Listening with you,



6 comments on “Listen to the Plants, They May Have the Answer

  1. Oh, this brings back memories. I’ll never forget learning how red hibiscus petals stop postpartum hemorrhage or the root shaped like pants that works as birth control! Thank you, for introducing this to me, Dawn…when you were “Dr. Blanchard” to me :). I’ll never forget my 3 weeks in Belize. They were life changing to me.

    • Those were growing years for both of us. It took me into ethnobotany. If I had my life to live again I might pick something in agriculture. I have friends here that are internationally-known for their weedless farming. They grow organically and sustainably. If you’re ever up this way for an extended period of time, I’d like to take you to see their farm. They are good with kids, too!

      I follow your blog regularly even though I don’t always leave a comment. You have had a lot going on!!! I bookmarked the site for the cute little dresses. They are nice!

      Blessings to you, Andrea…and strength,

  2. Dawn, this is interesting, and I believe it is true that there are remedies for all our ills within our botany. I have only read about this a little so I can’t wait to read more, including the book you mentioned. Are there others that you would recommend? I have a close friend who knew someone in the Appalachians-now deceased-who knew the plant lore and had a remedy that was quick and easy for removing tumors. Wouldn’t share it though-the old timer-not my friend. I love plants and growing things.

    • A.,

      I’m glad you found this interesting. I, too, love plants. It’s incredible to me that they can make food out of sunlight! Marvelous creations!

      I think I’ll go hug a tree,

      Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest is a good read. The author is Mark Plotkin

      Mutant Message Down Under I blogged about earlier.

      Bruchko by Bruce Olsen is my very favorite missionary story. He does it right.

  3. Dawn… How special to hear about the goodness of maple syrup… we have easy access to it through friends that order it often from the farmers who make it.
    Ourselves, we make birch syrup and I was just thinking yesterday as I added it to my bread making, that there must be tremendous goodness in it, minerals/nutrients. How timely to come by this old post 🙂 I love God’s every design… all meant to bless his children… we are all such lucky children to have such an Abba Father!

  4. Thanks for posting the link to this, Dawn. I have read other articles regarding plants that look like that which they are good for, but had never specifically heard of it as The Doctrine of Signatures. Great post and I must get myself some maple syrup. You have a wealth of information and experiences, dear lady!

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