Designing for Medicinal Resilience
With our dependence on petroleum-based pharmaceutical medicines, there are clear design challenges to ensure that we can be medicinally resilient in a post-oil society amongst other reasons, explored here. New European legislation also threatens our community’s ability to meet our medicinal needs in the future.
Herbal medicines are ecological medicines, they have been used safely, all over the world for thousands of years. They are from part of our environment and inexpensive and empowering to use and craft.
My research during this output period has been how we can design for herbal self-reliance at Brook End. My aim is to develop a working knowledge of healing herbs as a home herbalist/DIY practitioner so that we can meet the family's basic healthcare needs and nutrition, needing healthcare professionals only when genuinely necessary. We also aim to promote our herbal research, skill learning and horticultural activities to the wider public in order to support a needed grassroots herbalism movement.
To design for medicinal resilience I undertook the following research:
- Identifying our herbal aims - are we growing for local herbalists or will a small amount for home use suffice?
- Identifiying pactical skills needed e.g. how to prepare dry herbs & prepare medicines
- Identifying knowledge needed e.g. harvesting times, botany, anatomy and so forth.
- Auditing the resources we will need including processing equipment and storage facilties
- How to design an effective drying room
- Which herbs or ingredients will need to be traded or imported in e.g. plants not growing in temperate climates
- Potential herbal yields, beyond their medicinal aspects so we can view herbal self sufficiency in its holistic sense
- How to harvest herbs sustainably from the wild
- Which herbs have strong antibiotic properities
- Traditional medicinal plants in Somerset
- A seasonal harvesting & medicine making schedule
Making Planting Decisions
There are literally thousands of plants with medicinal actions. Prioritising species to cultivate can be challenging and below are positive criteria that have arisen through this process:
- Cultivating or wildcrafting nourishing & tonic herbs that are used frequently
- Native medicinal plants & those used traditionally in my bioregion
- Growing herbs with specific medicinal actions, such as antibiotics
- Perennial herbs including trees & shrubs
- Growing those that are threatened or species with similar medicinal actions are threatened in the wild
- Simply growing those you love and feel connected to