The five surprises of plant medicine

The five surprises of plant medicine

As time marches on, the blithe disregard for nature from modern civilization has given way to a mad dash to rekindle this relationship before the worst case scenario becomes inevitable. This has deep implications for the way WE live our lives going forward. However, it ain’t gonna be easy. The distractions of technology, career and the chase for the almighty dollar mean that the rest of the animals and plants we share this planet with for a brief moment are basically strangers to us. How can they aid us in achieving optimal health?

As the past two years have made abundantly clear, WE have to come up with better solutions for living on this planet if we’re going to make it through this century intact. That means drawing up a new compact with nature, and reintroducing ourselves to how it can heal us.

A big part of that is plant medicine, which is why we consider our 1CaB Healing Suite of Botanical Formulations a unique hybrid of ancient remedy and progressive treatment — “Back to the Future,” if you will, but for medicine. That’s a lot for people to wrap their heads around, but it makes sense when you consider some of the unique developments taking place in and around health care in the Tumultuous Twenties. These are just a few that have been popping up for us recently.

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Even your salad is plant medicine – and modern medicine is catching up

It’s only been since the turn of the century that the concept of Lifestyle Medicine began its gradual adoption within physical health. Considering how many illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease, stem in part from lifestyle disorders, that’s quite surprising. This of course involves nutrition, and it’s a big reason why food is one of Medicine Box’s Seven Pillars. It’s gotten to the point where the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital now has a Therapeutic Food Pantry for patients, where food is specifically prescribed for individual conditions.

We’ve also been discovering that we’re not just feeding ourselves when we eat, but feeding a host of beneficial, and unbeneficial, colonies of single-celled organisms referred to as the gut microbiome. A review of studies authored by researchers at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest in Toronto determined that the gut microbiota affected brain health and dementia risk. This makes sense, since the gut is often referred to as “the second brain.” Seen in this light, we’ve made our Happy Belly softgels to act as an aspirin for the gut, with stomach-soothing ingredients like fennel, cinnamon and red reishi combining with anti-inflammatory/anti-bacterial cannabinoids CBD and CBG to act as a potent prebiotic for your pre- and post-meal routines.

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This is key for us at Medicine Box – for us, you don’t have physical health without mental health, and our health care system’s overprioritization of one at the other’s expense must end, full stop. As anyone who’s ever attended to a houseplant knows, just having plants around can do a world of good when keeping people calm and attached to life itself. As for natural mental health supplements, you may have heard of St. John's Wort for moderate depression. There’s also valerian, which we have used for years in our Equanimity tincture for its calming effects. However, we have found that valerian works best in entourage with other soothing herbs such as catnip and skullcap, and when you cross that with CBD and CBN, it’s pretty hard to upset you afterwards.

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For us at Medicine Box, the soil is every bit as important as the plant, and we focus a lot on the rhizosphere – known as the environment and exchanges of minerals and nutrients which occur between the roots of the plant and the microbes in the soil – when it comes to the plants that are directly within our care. New attention has also been drawn to the fungi within the soil itself, of which only 2% of an estimated five million has even been identified. These fungi are now so important to science that a Citizen Science Soil Collection Program has now been enacted, which allows anyone to send samples of soil from anywhere in the world to be analyzed for the healing potential of its fungi. The cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s or any other condition may lurk within – that’s the hope.


Depending on where you live in the country, it’s possible you might drink dandelion tea for heartburn or as an appetite stimulant. There’s also a closely related cousin to poison oak which is used by the Japanese for a rich lacquer. And in case you’re ever interested post-COVID, there’s an Annual Poison Oak Show in Columbia, CA southwest of us where entrants compete for best poison oak arrangement, jewelry design and best rash.

We ourselves use purslane, also considered a weed, for Vital Recovery for its surfeit in essential vitamins and magnesium. Along with the four adaptogenic mushrooms — maitake, shiitake, chaga and reishi — and hemp, which for far too long was considered a weed in America and treated accordingly, the immune-boosting, fiber-filled qualities of these softgels can hardly be considered invasive. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, a weed is merely “a plant whose virtues have not been discovered.

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Out of 300,000 plants in the world, only about 15% have been evaluated for their healing potential. Considering 65 to 80% of developing nations use plants primarily for healing, that means we’re just using what little what we know. Of course, we do have to mind that we don’t render these plants extinct. A recent report from Royal Botanic Gardens found that just shy of 40% are. So just remember that if you want plants to take care of you, you have to take care of them first.

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