Is that really a thing? It seems like so many of the plants used as herbal medicine are weeds. Every spring cities and neighbours engage in all out war against the eternally useful (and dare I say pretty) dandilion. But unfortunatly it is true.
Just as with animals, plants are disapearing from our planet. Many of the reasons are similar - overharvesting and loss of habitat are amoung the leading causes of putting plants at risk for becoming extinct. Also, just as with animals there are groups and organizations trying to raise awareness and protect these plants. The United Plant Savers was started by a group of herbalists concerned about over harvesting of some of the most popular plants.
In my herbal practice I strive to use only herbs that are not on the list of species at risk. We are lucky in the plant kingdom there are often alternatives we can use. If a plant must be used then getting it from a cultivated source instead of wildcrafted is key to helping the preservation of wild plant populations.
Some plants are not able to be cultivated commercially and so I will no longer use them or recommend them. In a recent blog post I suggested one such plant, eyebright. Much to my (and several clients) dismay I am no longer able to bring this medicine in. When my suppliers couldn't get it any more I checked the species at risk list and sure enough, there is eyebright, at risk and difficult to propegate. I haven't been able to find a source for cultivated eyebright. This means I will no longer use it in my practice. Clover and nettles will step in for allergy support now.
In my garden I have started adding plants from the at risk list where I can. Keeping these plants around is important to our health and of course the health of the planet. I encourage you to check out the list. Know where you are getting your herbals medicines from. Avoid using plants from the list, learn about the alternatives, or cultivate them yourself.
Come join me August 1, 10am-noon for a weed walk. We will learn about some of the plants that grow around here and how to use them. Message or call me to register, 403.266.1694