The diagnostic question that became most important for me in the clinic was: To what extent does the patient trust in the lawfulness of nature. This goes right to the core of how I practice plant-based medicine. The extent that someone trusts in the lawfulness of nature is the degree to which they will be able to trust in the power of medicinal plants as agents of long and short term healing. We want more than just the ability to take care of an illness or malady, we want to actually feel alive and continuous with nature. Like we belong here. Because all the signs and symptoms in our society point to the fact that everyone doesn’t believe they belong here, they don’t feel it.
The language we use about health currently reinforces and generates disconnection. It is a language-based in abstractions that only a very select group are fluent in, making medicine itself a source of power for some and leaving the rest relatively disempowered. If someone has deeply internalized a mechanistic view of the body, it will seem like a machine that’s prone to malfunction and disrepair. This then necessitates doctor as technician, tinkering away at this silly machine that is always breaking.
The Traditional plant-based Medicine way is more interested in harnessing the natural intelligence of the body and its healing responses. That means letting the Qi take the lead, and paying close attention to the requirements of the body moment to moment as expressed through the qualities manifesting in a person. This person feels cold and tired, I think I will give them rest and warmth. This person feels dry and thirsty, I will give them moisture and liquid. This is elemental language, based on the qualities we can experience directly with our senses, and it restores unity and connection.
Learning to interpret reality using the timeless language of qualities inherently encourages us to feel connected to the world around us.
These qualities are both within and outside of us, and connect us seamlessly to the outside world. Understanding the language of elements is the doorway to connecting our behaviors and tendencies to the ability to foster health. Working with plant-based medicine is as much about integrating this new perspective as it is about applying the medicinal plants that can support our optimal health.
These qualities are the ones we know like the back of our hands. Hot and Cold, Dry and Moist, Fast and Slow, Tight and Loose. Using our senses to investigate these qualities as they manifest in our bodies and in our environment is deceptively powerful. It’s completely natural and simple, but it’s the doorway to a profound shift. On the other side lies personal empowerment and enduring health. This awakens the doctor within and the healing intelligence that lives in every cell. And better than that, it gives us the thing we need more than anything else to be truly healthy, that elusive sense of connection and belonging.