At Orenda Botanicals, our core business uses natural plants and traditional medicines to aid in chronic pain and discomfort. We leverage thousands of years of old-world application with our unique modern-day formulas. We’re inspired by the innovation of our ancestors and their commitment to helping improve their quality of life. Thankfully, history is rich with discoveries of ancient healing methods the lessons we can learn for today.
An archaeological dig in Nagpur, India uncovered a clay slab that identified 250 plants species and their health benefits. Similarly, the ancient Chinese Pen-ts’ao, dated 25O BCE, details 365 plant-based health recipes. Many are still in use in Traditional Chinese Medicine practices to this day.
Crossing all continents, ancient scripts can be found in nearly every culture and are proof positive that humans have a long-standing history of using plants for their healing abilities. The World Health Organization estimates that between 65-85% of the planet’s population still rely on traditional natural plant healing, especially in rural areas of the world.
Plants like arnica, eucalyptus, black cumin seed, and chamomile are all historically documented for their health and well-being benefits. Some are used topically, others are ingested, while others require another plant partner to activate its optimal healing properties. The latter being Orenda Botanical’s major point of difference.
Using plants for topical healing
Skin is the biggest organ of the human body and is our first line of defense against the outside world. Collectively, we live with trauma from wounds, burns, and bites; from repetitive exposure to harsh climates; and with unfortunate skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. It’s here that plant-based topicals have been aiding in the treatment and providing relief.
Plants like aloe vera, used for its soothing properties, and eucalyptus for its antiseptic properties remain popular treatments with an ancient past.
A recent scientific study examined the effects of Eucalyptus-loaded lipid nanoparticles (Eucalyptus extract that has been encased in an oil or solid lipid) on wound healing. The eucalyptus extract acted as an effective anti-microbial against a few tested bacteria species and the oil/eucalyptus combination showed good proliferation properties towards wound-healing fibroblast cells.
Arnica, a plant originating from Asia and Europe is often recommended for those suffering from arthritic pain and inflammation. Many prescription medicines offer remedies that include arnica as a primary or complementary ingredient.
Using ingestible plants for internal healing
You may be surprised to know that most of the herbs commonly used in the kitchen also have herbal properties.
Chamomile, for example, has been used to calm anxiety and racing minds and has been known to help people suffering from a loss of appetite.
Turmeric, an ingredient popular in the South Asian diet, has long been used internally to help manage pain and inflammation.
Chilli pepper is a popular spice across most continents. The active ingredient capsaicin is used in ointments to treat neuralgia, arthritis, and rheumatism.
Echinacea was used historically by Native Americans to treat everything from snakebites to bronchitis. It’s now believed to stimulate the body’s immune system and help overcome infections such as coughs and colds and heal minor wounds.
How were the right plant mixtures determined?
In the past, humans learned which plants would work for specific healing purposes through trial and error. Before long-distance travel became as effortless as it is today, humans had to rely on the resources they had directly available to them.
Healers and Knowledge Keepers would become quite familiar with the local flora and would explore possible healing properties. This sometimes happened through trial-and-error and other times, by accident.
When a plant or plant-based concoction was observed to help with an ailment, this knowledge would be passed on. Over time, these concoctions could be fine-tuned for optimal plant combinations.
Why do plants make such great healing compounds?
There are many theories as to why plants create various natural compounds that aid in human health. One theory has nothing to do with humans at all.
Plants, like all other living things, must adapt to their environment. They are constantly in an arms race with natural predators, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and herbivores, for survival. One way to increase survival is to produce compounds to either harm their predators or cause adverse reactions.
A great example of this is the natural anti-microbial properties of plants like tea tree or eucalyptus. These properties are caused by compounds that plants have evolved to protect themselves. Humans have learned over time that these protective compounds can be extracted through soaking or crushing plant parts and then used for personal benefit.
The willow tree produces a compound in its bark, known as salicin. Salicin is a compound that is shown to play an important role in plant defenses against various pathogens for the tree. This same compound has also been used in teas and salves for thousands of years in traditional medicine to stave off fever and reduce pain. In 1897, a German scientist slightly altered this compound, and it is now used as the main ingredient in western medicine, known today as Aspirin.
Heath benefits of natural ingredients
In the west, we are coming full circle to plant-based healing. We’re seeing nature at a new level and reconnecting to its ancient past. People are realizing the benefits of natural ingredients and traditional healing methods. When using the correct plants for their intended purpose, you can often help improve ailments with few side effects. Under medical supervision, they can also often be used in conjunction with western medicine for better prognosis and symptom management.
Nature creates complex (yet efficient) mechanisms to keep life thriving. When we make time to listen and learn from plants and our natural world, we thrive too.