This book is the second in my series on the medicinal plants of the Southeast, focusing on the mid-Atlantic region. Given the biodiversity of this region, from hot subtropics to mountain climates similar to much of New England, the Pacific Northwest, the British Isles and even mountainous regions of China we have remarkable biodiversity in plant species here. Much of our medicinal herbs are little documented, especially in the modern era, and far too often overlooked both by herbalists and those of us who call this beautiful region home.
For that reason, I chose the smallest of our native shrubs as the photo for the cover of this book, Chimaphila maculata, also called Pipsissewa or Spotted Wintergreen. This little herb is potently medicinal, being useful for colds, bladder infections, arthritis, etc. For full use, see page 31. This herb has traditionally been one of the most reliably useful herbs of Native American and Early American Herbal Medicine, but also found great popularity in the European tradition. However, this little herb is almost forgotten in our era. It is pulled up as a weed or destroyed by real estate development by millions each year. We should always be good stewards; simply leaving things alone is not always the best means of preservation. Oftentimes, we must take an active role by transplanting or cultivating these herbs.
Taking an active role is what this book is all about. It is about taking an active role in your own health by learning the herbs all around you and their use. People tend to think of herbs as little green things - sages and mints, etc. While such herbaceous plants are certainly potent medicinal herbs, often more common and accessible… and sometimes even more potent and useful, are the trees, shrubs, vines and other plants growing all around us. As the Bible says, “My people die from lack of knowledge.”
In this book, you will learn about hundreds of plants that are quite literally all around us. All that is left to do is to go outside and learn to identify them. Having the medicinal herbs you need, at hand when you need them, is the goal of much of my work - kitchen medicine, independence and resilience. I believe the same God who made man gave us every medicinal herb we need to maintain our health and even cure the diseases that came about through the fall of man. That philosophy is espoused by most every religion, the traditions of the ancient world, Christian saints and even doctors until very recently. Unfortunately, our education system has failed us in not teaching us many of the things we most need to know. My book is a simple tool that may be used to correct that deficit.
Please join me in simply wandering through nature and learning about the majesty that is God’s good green earth.
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