Unlocking the Power of Plant Medicine

Updated on  
Unlocking the Power of Plant Medicine

Written by Maddie Lewin


Based on ancient medicine practices and scientific studies, Maddie, our in-house naturopath has come up with a 4 part series on how we can unlock the power of plants. Plants were the first form of medicine man had access to and as Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” 


Here in Melbourne, I have noticed so many people are falling sick as our bodies struggle to adapt to the changeable weather this spring. Learn how to use mother nature’s gifts to give your immune system a boost using the power plant medicine. Cayenne, turmeric, and ginger all possess warming energetics that will warm you up from the inside out. Combine these plants with potent herbs such as echinacea and garlic, you will be set to nip any springtime lurgy in the bud.

Which plants keep you WARM? (or COOL) The Energetics of Plants

Have you ever eaten some chilli or ginger and started to break a sweat? Or have you tried some cucumber or mint on a hot summer’s day and felt it cool you down? In herbal medicine, Herbalists and Naturopaths classify herbs as exhibiting either warming, cooling or neutral properties. Warming herbs work by increasing circulation and dispersing stagnation in the body. Whereas, coolings herbs constrict capillaries and decrease inflammation. Neutral herbs are used in both hot and cooler conditions. By utilising the energetics of plants, they can be used to our advantage depending on what we are trying to treat. The medicinal actions of certain herbs, such as turmeric being anti-inflammatory, is usually the first factor involved in selecting herb for a particular ailment. The energetic of the herb – for example, turmeric being warming – is usually the secondary characteristic that is often the deciding factor when choosing a particular herb for herbal tonic.



Warming herbs are particularly useful in the cooler months, as they can stimulate circulation to your peripheries, warming you from the inside out. Some herbs that possess this snuggly effect are cayenne, turmeric and ginger and they have the science to prove it!


When taken orally, cayenne can be felt deep within the stomach where it warms you up, whilst fighting against any harmful bacteria or viruses that may be in your system. The active component in cayenne that gives it it’s heating and anti-microbial abilities is capsaicin. Studies have shown that by ingesting capsaicin, you can boost your immune function [11]. Cayenne is also rich in vitamin C which is well known to give any lingering respiratory infections an extra kick in the guts.


The use of turmeric in food as medicine was first documented in India in the ancient practice of Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, it is believed that disease occurs when the elements that make up our bodies are out of balance. In the instance of the common cold, it occurs because the body’s digestive fire, or agni, is dampened due to the cold weather dampening our immunity. When this fire is dimmed, it is unable to burn body toxins, or ama. Therefore, the ama accumulates, clogging channels of the body and causing phlegm, or Kapha. Turmeric is used to remedy this as it is believed to kill ama and build immunity [10].

Scientific studies have confirmed the capabilities of turmeric in fighting off harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi [14]. It is though that curcumin – the active compound in turmeric – works synergistically with the good bugs in our system by enhancing their ability in fighting off the bad bugs.


Ginger has been traditionally used in herbal medicine to warm a person with a cold constitution or with poor circulation. If you find it difficult to warm up in the colder weather and often have cold hands and feet, you may have a cold constitution. By using ginger to combat the cold, it boosts blood flow throughout the body, ensuring that you are warmed from the inside out. Ginger root is also known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and is often used in herbalism for pain, congestion and nausea.

A liquid extract of ginger root was found to improve the bodies resistance to infection by boosting the immune system and increasing participant’s fight against infections [12].


Both echinacea and garlic have been used for hundreds of years, and are both the subject of many old wives tales for their ability to fight off colds and flus. As so often happens, science has caught up to prove the merit behind these beloved tales, demonstrating that echinacea and garlic extracts pack an immune-boosting punch.


Echinacea is a beautiful flowering plant native to North America and has been used in Native American plant medicine since at least the 18th century. The use of this plant was then adopted by early Western herbalists in the 20th century for its dynamic effects on the immune system. It has been documented that Native Americans used echinacea for a number of conditions, such as for pain relief, coughs, sore throats, fevers, arthritis, and even as an antidote to poisons and venoms [9].

In modern herbalism (aka modern witches like myself), Echinacea has been extensively studied for its effects on the immune system. It has been widely used in both preventing colds and flus, as well as in reducing time spent unwell (hello less sick days!).


Garlic has long been the subject of many witchy experiments, whether it be putting garlic cloves in your socks at night to fight off illness (I do not recommend) or eating it raw by the clove for good health. Although you won’t find me putting garlic anywhere near my feet, it does live up to the hype in it’s incredible ability to fight off bugs and it is often dubbed nature’s antibiotic.

Garlic eases that congestion that a lot of us suffer with, particularly in springtime. 

These old witches were on the right track however, as a 2016 study proved that supplementation of garlic may enhance immune cell function.

The Anima Mundi Apothecary Cold’s Cocktail formula contains ginger, echinacea, garlic, turmeric, boldo leaf and cayenne. Here at Stoned, the Cold’s Cocktail is our team’s first port of call whenever we are feeling the beginnings of a cold.

Shop the Anima Mundi Collection here


[1] Provino, R 2010, ‘The role of adaptogens in stress management’, Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 41–49, viewed 29 May 2019, <http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.endeavour.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=awh&AN=51457352&site=eds-live&scope=site>.

[2] Mirjalili M, Moyano E et al. 2009. Steroidal lactones from Withania somnifera, an ancient plant for novel medicine. Molecules 14:7;2373-93.

[3] Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 34(3), 255–262. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022

[4] Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 9. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/

[5] Loyd AL, Richter BS, Jusino MA, Truong C, Smith ME, Blanchette RA and Smith JA (2018) Identifying the “Mushroom of Immortality”: Assessing the Ganoderma Species Composition in Commercial Reishi Products. Front. Microbiol. 9:1557. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01557

[6] Matsuzaki, H., Shimizu, Y., Iwata, N., Kamiuchi, S., Suzuki, F., Iizuka, H., … Okazaki, M. (2013). Antidepressant-like effects of a water-soluble extract from the culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia in rats. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 13, 370. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-370

[7] Barrett, B. et al. (2010) ‘Echinacea for treating the common cold: a randomized trial’, Annals Of Internal Medicine, 153(12), pp. 769–777. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-12-201012210-00003.

[8] Linde  K, Barrett B, Bauer  R, Melchart D, Woelkart  K. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000530. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000530.pub2.

[9] Andrea T Borchers, Carl L Keen, Judy S Stern, M Eric Gershwin, Inflammation and Native American medicine: the role of botanicals, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 72, Issue 2, August 2000, Pages 339–347, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/72.2.339

[10] https://www.mapi.com/ayurvedic-knowledge/immunity/cure-the-common-cold-naturally.html

[11] Yu, R, Park, JW, Kurata, T & Erickson, KL 1998, ‘Modulation of Select Immune Responses by Dietary Capsaicin’, International Journal for Vitamin and Nutritional Research, viewed 6 June 2019, vol. 68, no. 2, pp. 114-119, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9565827.

[12] Mahassni, SH & Bukhari, OA 2019, ‘Beneficial effects of an aqueous ginger extract on the immune system cells and antibodies, hematology, and thyroid hormones in male smokers and non-smokers’, Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism, vol. 15, pp. 10–17, viewed 6 June 2019, <http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.endeavour.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edselp&AN=S2352385918300598&site=eds-live&scope=site>.

[13] Percival, SS 2016, ‘Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity’, The Journal Of Nutrition, vol. 146, no. 2, p. 433S–436S, viewed 6 June 2019, <http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.endeavour.edu.au/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mdc&AN=26764332&site=eds-live&scope=site>.[14] Moghadamtousi, S. Z., Kadir, H. A., Hassandarvish, P., Tajik, H., Abubakar, S., & Zandi, K. (2014). A review on antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity of curcumin. BioMed research international, 2014, 186864. doi:10.1155/2014/186864

Published on  Updated on  

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.