Power Plants

They give us the air we breathe and make our world the vixen of the so­lar sys­tem, but the power of plants doesn’t end there.


Some are de­li­cious to eat, oth­ers are lovely to look at, and some smell so damn good we shove our noses right up in their grills – there’s no doubt about it, plants are a tal­ented (not to men­tion oblig­ing) bunch. They also con­trib­ute to our well­be­ing in many qui­etly as­tound­ing ways. From drink­ing herbal tea to tak­ing tinc­tures, hu­mans have used plants to aid heal­ing for cen­turies. Some of us even use them to es­cape re­al­ity and go on spir­i­tual jour­neys (we’re look­ing at you, pey­ote). They are con­stantly, silently work­ing to make our lives bet­ter. In short: plants de­serve to be el­e­vated to hero sta­tus in our lives.


You don’t have to be a rocket sci­en­tist to know that hav­ing plants in your of­fice, home and study is a good idea. Given the choice be­tween be­ing sur­rounded by green ferns or flow­er­ing or­chids in com­par­i­son to a bunch of grey, stan­dard-is­sue fil­ing cab­i­nets, we all know which sce­nario we’d pre­fer. But it ap­pears that you do have to be a rocket sci­en­tist to mea­sure the im­pact that in­door plants have on our en­vi­ron­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the boffins at NASA (Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion), in­door plants are ca­pa­ble of re­mov­ing tox­ins from the air. As a part of its Clean Air Study, NASA con­firmed that in­door plants were able to neu­tralise the ef­fects of air­borne tox­ins like ben­zene and formalde­hyde. Ac­cord­ing to the study, some of the best plants for air fil­ter­ing in­clude the peace lily, the spi­der plant and the snake plant (also op­er­at­ing un­der the mildly of­fen­sive name of mother-in-law’s tongue). A num­ber of other stud­ies have in­di­cated that pa­tients in hos­pi­tal rooms with plants re­cov­ered faster and ex­pe­ri­enced less pain than pa­tients in rooms with­out plants. While you don’t have to turn your study into the Ama­zon, it ap­pears that a few plants could make a dif­fer­ence to the qual­ity of air that you breathe.


The good news is you don’t have to go bush to har­ness the heal­ing power of plants, as your own backyard (or bal­cony) is prob­a­bly home to a num­ber of com­mon plants with heal­ing prop­er­ties. Ac­cord­ing to folk wis­dom gath­ered over cen­turies, fresh pars­ley slays bad breath, mint soothes tummy trou­bles, co­rian­der al­le­vi­ates sea­sonal al­ler­gies, and sage is an over­achiever that does just about ev­ery­thing in­clud­ing (but not lim­ited to) re­liev­ing mouth ul­cers, im­prov­ing di­ges­tion, killing fun­gal in­fec­tions and calm­ing sore throats.

Some com­mon species of flow­ers also aid in im­prov­ing our well­be­ing. While there’s lim­ited sci­en­tific ev­i­dence to prove the ben­e­fits of camomile, its flower and leaves are regularly used in tea to al­le­vi­ate in­som­nia, while the root of the dan­de­lion plant can be used to make a cof­fee al­ter­na­tive, pro­vid­ing a caf­feine-free op­tion for those brave war­riors among us try­ing to kick the cof­fee habit (good luck with that).

Sally Mathrick, a Mel­bourne-based natur­opath, har­nesses the heal­ing power of plants in her work at Sparkle Well­ness and Detox, where she gives diet ad­vice and herbal medicines to sup­port the nat­u­ral heal­ing process of the body. “… We’re so in­cred­i­bly for­tu­nate to have a large phar­ma­copoeia at our fin­ger­tips. Herbal teas are highly ac­ces­si­ble and adding herbs to your cook­ing is so sim­ple to do,” she says. Not all herbs are cre­ated equal though, with Mathrick nam­ing tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) as one of the shin­ing stars of herbal medicine. “Tulsi is a re­mark­able herb that hails from In­dia, where it is revered as a sa­cred plant. Stud­ies have shown it has in­cred­i­ble heal­ing prop­er­ties. It’s anti-vi­ral, anti-in­flam­ma­tory, an­ti­fun­gal and anti-bac­te­rial. It’s also an adap­to­gen that helps the body adapt to stress and is recog­nised as a great herb for women be­cause it as­sists with fer­til­ity, men­strual and re­pro­duc­tive is­sues. We can in­cor­po­rate tulsi into our daily lives very easily be­cause you can get tulsi tea in most health food stores,” Mathrick says.


While not gifted with the art of speech, flow­ers have a lan­guage of their own. A bunch of roses can say ‘I love you’ (or ‘I’m sorry’ if you’ve been a jerk). A field of wild­flow­ers can magic up some in­stant joy while a vase of fresh flow­ers can trans­form a dreary hos­pi­tal room into a hap­pier place. But there’s much more to flow­ers than their good looks, with their essences be­ing used by many to bal­ance the mind and body.

Us­ing some of the old­est flow­er­ing plant species on earth, Aus­tralian Bush Flower Essences are sold at chemists and health food stores (although home­opaths and natur­opaths can also mix up essences tai­lored to spe­cific needs). Although there have been no sci­en­tific stud­ies that prove the ef­fi­cacy of flower essences, Aus­tralian Bush Flower Essences work on the premise that flow­ers con­tain unique vi­bra­tional heal­ing sig­na­tures that can be used to bring about emo­tional and spir­i­tual bal­ance within us. Each bot­tle con­tains a few drops of stock flower essence, mixed with a so­lu­tion of pu­ri­fied wa­ter and brandy (to pre­serve the essence, not get you drunk). The mak­ers claim that a few drops un­der the tongue each day can as­sist in ev­ery­thing from gain­ing clar­ity to be­ing more con­fi­dent.

Sally Mathrick has not only seen flower essences work in the lives of her clients, but also in her own life, as she used flower essences to as­sist with quit­ting smok­ing. For many smok­ers, giv­ing up cig­gies is a pun­ish­ing jour­ney along a road to hell paved with good in­ten­tions (and that road is lit­tered with lozenges, patches and gum). Yet for Mathrick, flower essences made the tran­si­tion a smoother one. “The con­cept of flower essences is quite es­o­teric, but I use them be­cause I find they work. They’re amaz­ing be­cause they sup­port this emo­tional side of us. When I first heard about flower essences, I was scep­ti­cal but it was only when I fi­nally stopped smok­ing – and I was a hard­core smoker – that I started tak­ing flower essences se­ri­ously. I had tried to quit smok­ing many times but when I took flower essences made es­pe­cially for me, I fi­nally broke that pat­tern. It’s like I had a new un­der­stand­ing about why I smoked and why I didn’t want to con­tinue smok­ing.” Mathrick ex­plains. While flower essences don’t have the sup­port of the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity, any­thing that helps a smoker in their time of need de­serves a look (and per­haps a tick­er­tape pa­rade).

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