Our culture has the tendency to put the most value on plants (extracts, constituents, oils etc.) that are rare, hard to come by or exotic. We have a learned to believe that these must be the most potent secret cures, keys to attaining eternal youth.
However, often times this isn’t the case with medicinal plants. Abundant, accessible and sustainable plants are often of the greatest value nutritionally, medicinally and topically.
If you ponder it, a slow growing tree or tiny patch of greenery growing halfway around the world is far less valuable than a common weed full of nutrition and healing capabilities. As an herbalist, I am much more enthusiastic about a yard full of chickweed, chamomile, mallows, nettle, milky oats and dandelion than I am about a shrub growing on another continent. After all, these multiply quickly and are filled with beneficial attributes. No matter how much you pick, cut, pull or tread on these beauties, they are going to grow back (much to some gardeners’ chagrin), which means they have a tremendous capacity for feeding us and aid our bodies.
Tenacious stinging nettles, for example, are filled with vitamins and minerals. (They contain vitamin A, various B vitamins, C, D, K, E, plus chlorophyll, potassium, calcium, mangaan, acetycholine, serotonine, sulphur, iron, selenium, magnesium, chromium and zinc, and they’re a great source of food and medicine.) Employing weeds instead of rare plants means we won’t risk altering the balance of the ecosystem severely. Furthermore, because I am a plant lover, I believe the plant population has an inherent right to thrive for themselves.