Growing Health Care

By Ayla Nereo

If we live in a system

where medicine is a commodity,

a band-aid to the underlying root,

symptoms treated instead of causes,

and all of it only available

to the ones who have enough money —

then perhaps it is time to look around us

to see what is growing on our streets

in our hills

and see what we can grow in our backyards.

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The plants are the most generous beings,

and they hold such powerful medicine

that business owners want to make them illegal,

knowing that their potency

could rival the synthetic products that can be patented and profited.

The plants are our healers.

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In these times,

when healthcare systems are being cut back

when the government prioritizes profit over true health

treatments prioritize quick relief over deep healing

and the industry dispenses addictive symptom-covering pills

while plants that can can cure cancer

are labeled ‘drugs,’ made illegal, privatized, or clear-cut,

and the root of the reason we have cancer anyways

is not even examined…

in these times,

we must take our health back.

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In every single community, across this entire country, there are healers, medicine-women and medicine-men, herbalists and alternative doctors who have dedicated their lives to the original knowledge of the plants and medicines that grow around us.

It is time we lift them up.

Because we need them in our communities, in our villages, more than ever.IMG_2157

I woke with a vision one day last year of creating Herbalism Action Days to help us all empower ourselves to be our own healers

to know the edible and medicinal plants growing around us and the medicine-makers that live in our communities.ayla_cedar_house

These days happen after a show night, directing the amazing fan-energy toward giving back to that community

putting out hands in the earth, connecting with the local teachers, leaders, and healers, and building resiliency and self-reliance as a village in those places I visit and share music.ayla_wildlight_b&w

In Topanga Canyon, CA, we gathered under the great oaks and learned about rosemary and sage and rose and others plants that grow around us, how they can heal us and how to make medicines.

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In Boulder, CO, we had over a hundred people learning about plant identification, fermentation, conscious gardening practices, herbal infusions, energy medicines, plant communication, and more.

Teas and remedies shared, medicine-makers bringing their medicines, community connecting with one another.

Building resilience.

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In Paonia, CO, we learned about biodynamic gardening, soil treatments, how to make herbal medicinal tinctures and oil infusions, flower essence medicine and how to create it, and the amazing way herbs and ‘weeds’ can be made into treatments that help support the growth of edible plants and trees so that our farms and gardens can produce twice as much food and it can be even more potent as medicine.

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Bit by bit, we empower each other.

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And this is just the beginning.

It is time to reclaim our bodies, our health, and our health-care. And to honor the plants, and all the incredible gifts of healing they carry.

Thank you each and every one of you who came out to the Herbalism Action Days so far! Especially the teachers and hosts of each space—  thank you for sharing your wisdom.

I am so excited to do more and more Herbalism Action Days. If you have ideas or want to join in helping create the next one in your town, send me a note.

How far can our leaves reach?

How deep can our roots go?

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(And by request….

Here is a short list of some of my favorite books on herbalism / herbalists to learn from:

The Complete Medicinal Herbal

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs

(and all other books by Rosemary)

The Country Almanac of Home Remedies – Brigitte Mars

(and all other books by Brigitte)

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