The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants

Author: Guido Masé
Publisher: Healing Arts Press
Book Publication: 2013

The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants combines science and stories to instruct readers on how to make the most of nature’s medicine – plants – for maintaining health and healing the body. Author Guido Masé comes to his subject matter with impressive credentials, as he is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and garden steward, as well as the co-founder and co-director of the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, a professional member of the American Herbalists Guild, the American Botanical Council, and United Plant Savers.

Masé begins The Wild Medicine Solution with a discussion about food being the foundation of medicine. He goes on to explain traditional herbal medicine, arguing that plants are uniquely adapted to work with our physiology because we co-evolved with them. The book is then divided into three sections. The first part looks at aromatic plants which include fragrant lemon balm and ginger; these plants soothe nerves, organs, and muscles, and also enliven sluggishness be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. The next part covers bitter plants such as tart wormwood and dandelion, which promote digestion, balance one’s blood sugar, and assist the metabolism. The third part addresses tonics such as tasty chocolate and red reishi, which help the immune system and the proper functioning of our cells.

Masé has an interesting writing style – he can be scientific at times, addressing heart rate variability, the science behind the effectiveness of a plant, or the role tonic plants can play in fighting cancer. He can also be entertaining, sharing historical anecdotes related to plants, such as the story of the first-century-BC king Mithridates of Pontus, who feared being poisoned so much that he ingested sub-lethal amounts of toxic plants for years to build up his immunity, and co-created a mythical antidote for all poisons. (This plan backfired as he tried unsuccessfully to poison himself when he was about to be captured by Rome. Mithridates apparently had to have his own bodyguard kill himself instead.)

Thirteen different plants are profiled in The Wild Medicine Solution, with information on the plant’s ancient and modern uses, how to harvest each one (if possible), store it, and how to use it to heal the body. There are also several simple recipes for adding the plants as seasonings, brewing teas or tinctures, or as a central ingredient to one’s diet, as well as a few recipes for the external application of the plant, such as baths.

Masé argues in The Wild Medicine Solution that the modern urban lifestyle of most North Americans is destroying our connection to nature and to nature’s medicine, which we do at our peril. For example, he looks at the low incidence of asthma among farm kids and argues that one of the reasons for this could be their exposure to wild plants or that  gardening helps their bodies avoid this chronic disease.

The book also has an eight-page colour insert featuring the various plants profiled, extensive notes, a bibliography, and an index.

The Wild Medicine Solution is a passionate argument for nature’s own medicine – the aromatic, bitter, and tonic plants that have always been there for us.

V

Victoria Moorshead is an editor and writer, and a former staff member of Vitality Magazine.

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