Herbs were traditionally defined as plants with aromatic properties that have both culinary and medicinal uses. However the term "herb" has been broadened to include plants or parts of plants (which includes seeds, berries, stems, stalks, roots and flowers) which have properties that have medicinal uses. The medicinal substances obtained from these plants and used in products are referred to as botanicals. A large number of studies have been conducted around the constituents of many herbs and plants, with their benefits documented in many research papers. In fact due to increased antibiotic resistance in conventional medicine scientists are once again turning to plants for assistance.
The term herbal energetics, or herbal actions, defines how plants and herbs interact with, and affect, the body. Herbalists use this knowledge and understanding of plants to match a plant's energy to a condition or issue. As taste is one of the best ways to determine the energetic of a plant herbivores are best placed to take advantage of this, though not exclusively as carnivores and omnivores have an innate ability to self-medicate by foraging for, and selecting, plants.
Therefore, by having a range of plants with medicinal properties that are easily accessible could be beneficial for both yourself and your animals as they too will be able to readily select these plants for their health and well-being
Recent studies have shown that bees are in decline, so by adding flowering plants to your yard, patio or garden you are supporting them and other pollinating insects, such as hoverflies. The flowers are rich in nectar, which is used for energy, and pollen, which contains protein and oils. Butterflies also feed off plant nectar and they too convert this to energy which is used for flight. Additionally, some plants support insects at different times of the day, for example honeysuckle supports moths at night.
As there are many species of bees it is best to provide a wide range of flowering plants to accommodate their different tongue sizes.
Don't forget if you have a water container in your garden leave a piece of string in this to allow bees and other insects to climb out.
The definition of biodiversity is " variety of plant and animal life which is usually considered to be important and desirable". A similar term is "rewilding" which upholds similar principles, but this is on a much larger scale and sees the restoration of ecosystems.
Below are examples of projects with these principles in mind:
The organisation Plantlife reports that 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s, with a third of bumblebees and 70% of butterflies in decline. However, their mission is to turn these declines around, while supporting diversity over a range of terrains.
The Blue Heart Campaign started in 2014 and promotes rewilding in gardens, along verges, in parks and school grounds, with a blue heart made from recycled materials placed in the area to highlight this.
For more information visit their website:
We can increase the diversity of plants within our patio, garden or yard areas which could potentially lead to a wider range of insects, birds and possibly wild animals that would benefit. For example why not add Sunflowers or Teasels as these are attractive to finches, in particular Goldfinches. If possible choose native plants and trees that provide nectar and pollen for as long as possible through the seasons, and even allow an area of your garden to become a little overgrown or less managed.
Biodiversity and nature’s healing gifts by Viv Anthony
Viv explains how biodiversity is under threat and why conservation is important to aromatherapy