By: Sharon Letts Author’s Note: Going out on a limb here in not including cannabis for this piece on superfoods. But, as I like to say, cannabis was my gateway drug to other plants. Think of this as a doorway into the life of other plants I incorporate into my personal daily dosing. The plants […]
By: Sharon Letts
Author’s Note: Going out on a limb here in not including cannabis for this piece on superfoods. But, as I like to say, cannabis was my gateway drug to other plants. Think of this as a doorway into the life of other plants I incorporate into my personal daily dosing. The plants I brag on just as much as cannabis. Because there’s a plant for everything, and many of these plants have many of the same benefits as cannabis, with overlapping benefits. Put them together with cannabis and you have a full profile of cannabinoids, terpenes, and a world of beneficial compounds, all working together with your biological systems, supporting optimal health.
When cannabis came into my life as medicine nearly ten years ago I had been eating from my own home garden all of my adult life. I raised my daughter in the garden, teaching her how to grow her own food at a young age.
But, I really didn’t know just how important including as many plants into your diet was – specifically beneficial herbs..
When they told us to eat our vegetables, they should have scared the shit out of us. They should have told us it’s a matter of life and death, because it is.
Important to note that plant propaganda is real, making garnering help from beneficial herbs a challenge for the average person. Searches on most of these herbs found medical sites warning of negative effects, stating nothing is really known about plants and their healing properties, while herbalists sites expound on the known benefits and exceptional healing found in the garden. I feel privileged to be educated on plant remedies.
Prior to the late 1930s and the birth of the pharmaceutical industry, the practice of Apothecary – making remedies from plants – was the way we healed and prevented illness on this planet. In this respect, pharmaceuticals are a fairly new mode of treating illness – and still very much experimental with myriad negative side effects.
In fact, the word “drug” came from the Dutch word “Drog,” or the wooden crate plant materials were shipped in. Drugs were all about plants.
Beatrix Potter wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1893, with millions of children and adults alike reading of Peter’s mother putting him to bed with a cup of chamomile tea after he’d made a feast out of Mr. McGregor’s garden.
Sadly, chamomile and many other potent medicinal plants have been reduced to a cup of tea over the years, or into mild tinctures treating symptom relief only. It wasn’t until I learned about making cannabis oil concentrate in an alcohol reduction that I realized the value of the essential oils of plants and how life changing they can be, with little negative side effects and lots of healing.
Super Plants = Superfoods
The definition of a superfood is any nutrient rich plant containing many beneficial compounds, able to treat multiple symptoms and disorders.
Superfoods strengthen our immune system, while addressing all 11 of our biological systems via the endocannabinoid system – a little known system discovered in 1992 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem by Dr. Lumir Hanus, with American researcher, Dr. William Devane. The endocannabinoid system was found to distribute beneficial plant-based compounds to all our systems, preventing illness and keeping us healthy.
Sidenote: Dogs and cats have the same biological systems as humans, and why they respond well to plant medicine.
According to Biology Online.com, the systems supported by plants are: integumentary system, lymphatic system, muscular system, nervous system, reproductive system, respiratory system, skeletal system, endocrine system, immune system, and urinary system.
A search for superfoods comes up short, as within the brief list of berries, broccoli and salmon, are “leafy greens.” While many might assume lettuce and spinach are at the top of the list, beneficial herbs are sorely missing.
In April of 2010 a paper was published (link below) showing ten essential oils tested on acne (bacterial) and cancer cells. They included: mint, ginger, lemon, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, thyme, rose, and cinnamon.
Of the ten, thyme, cinnamon and rose essential oils were said to exhibit the best bactericidal activities, killing acne in five minutes. Thyme showed the strongest cytotoxicity towards human cancer cells. All ten were said to be significantly stronger in treating human lung carcinoma and human breast cancer.
The studies on plants listing their benefits and in treating numerous ailments are published for all to see. The concentrations of essential oils and the use of isolated compounds are key in determining the efficacy.
For example, when studying cannabis, is the study using an isolated single compound, or the whole plant? This rule of thumb can be used in all plant-based studies and has everything to do with the outcomes. The difference in treating symptoms or putting an ailment into remission has everything to do with the strength of the plant concentrate used.
For instance, in the study finding that THC can trigger existing psychosis, a high concentration of THC via an isolate was used. Meaning, the person receiving the dose was getting pure THC without any supporting compounds from the plant – making the outcome limited and severe in its findings.
Using the whole plant, be it cannabis or oregano, with all supporting beneficial compounds, is key in treating any illness, while supporting the endocannabinoid system properly. Breaking down the plant to formulate in order to patent for profit, is where we fall short with plant remedies, in my humble opinion.
Here’s my own short list of superfoods via beneficial, immune-system-building herbs, with a recipe for a simple infusion for tincture using either a light oil, vinegar, or an alcohol base.
Sharon’s List of Super Plants
Benefits: antidepressant, antianxiety, anti inflammatory, anti infection, analgesic/pain, antioxidant, sleep and relaxation, lowers blood sugars/diabetes, skin conditions, auto-immune system builder .
Chamomile is commonly known and used for calming and inducing sleep. It’s digestive benefits are not widely known, as most in the western world reach for over the counter medications for bloating or constipation.
The bonus of enjoying a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime is prevention against infection, reducing inflammation in the body, and treating depression, as it lifts endorphins and creates dopamine in the brain, giving an overall feeling of well being.
Chamomile also treats anxiety and diminishes panic attacks. Make a concentrated infusion and this strong herb can be life changing. On a personal note, chamomile capsules made in a simple coconut infusion, then put into capsules, got me off of Valium for my own anxiety and hormonal depression.
Benefits: anti-oxidant, digestive issues, anti-inflammatory, regulates high blood pressure, anti-bacterial, auto-immune system builder.
Grown and commonly used in South America, this fruit known as soursop or custard apple is also used for its leaves to make tea, treating stomach ailments, fevers and parasitic infections, hypertension and rheumatism. It’s also used as a sedative. But the commonly known use for guanabana is as an antioxidant in treating cancer and killing cancer cells.
Benefits: brain function/clarity/memory/mood, antianxiety, stimulates hair growth, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, digestive help, destressor, helps circulation, anti-infection, anti-oxidant, auto-immune system builder.
Rosemary is one of the most underrated herbs and one of the most efficient in treating infections. It also gives clarity, improving memory. It’s also been found to be effective in killing and preventing cancer cells from growing (study below). In a study looking at ten antioxidant plants, Rosemary was at the top of the list with a 97 percent success rate in a laboratory study.
Benefits: anti inflammatory/pain, lowers blood pressure, treats hay fever/respiratory support, lowers blood sugars/diabetes, detoxification (kidney/liver), increases circulation, prostate health (frequent urination), promotes wound healing, auto-immune system builder.
I first found out about stinging nettles after having a bad bout of hayfever a few summers ago. Soaked in gin, it’s become my go-to tincture for allergies, but it’s also another superfood, able to address many ailments including, gout, arthritis, and an enlarged prostate gland. Conflicting information has nettles both lauded for its help in detoxing the liver and kidneys by herbalists, and blaming it for complications thereof by medical sites. This educated stoner will trust the plant.
Benefits: antioxidant, anti infection, anti-viral, bronchial support, sore throat, pain, digestive issues, flatulence (gas), parasitic worm infections, skin disorders, detoxification (increase good fats in brain, liver and kidneys), auto-immune system builder.
Thyme is another powerful super plant, able to treat many infections and ailments, including being an antifungal, viral, with cancer fighting compounds. Thyme was found to be the most powerful at killing cancer cells in a laboratory study (link below).
Benefits: antioxidant, anti infection/viral, fungal, anti inflammatory, regulates blood pressure, helps with digestion, bronchial issues, and calms nerves, auto-immune system builder.
Oregano is yet another powerful herb able to treat myriad infections and enhanced non-specific immunity and disease resistance . It’s also a cancer fighting plant, and an immune system builder. But a simple search on its uses came up short, with pizza and sauce at the top of the search list!
Note: Most of these plants have a full profile of vitamins and minerals. Do your own research to find out more.
Immune System Building, Preventive Tincture
The following tincture can be made by infusion of a light oil, such as grapeseed or sunflower; or with olive oil to infuse foods. The plants can also be steeped in gin or apple cider vinegar (ACV), if the patient can’t have alcohol.
¼ c. each dried rosemary leaves, chamomile flower, guanabana leaves, stinging nettles
(can also use any combination of herbs from above list)
Add all to one liter of oil in a crockpot and steep on low for 2-3 hours.
Strain and decant. Dose with a teaspoon or put in a bottle with a dropper.
Dose: 1 ml. once a day.
If using gin or ACV, cold-steep in a cool cupboard for up to one week, or when the color is a light brown. Strain and decant as above. Use gin infusion as a tincture, or make a beneficial cocktail.
See Sharon’s website for more ideas and recipes www.sharonletts.com/apothecary
Rosemary study, antioxidant: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352773/
Ten antioxidant herbs: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20657472/