The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants

Guido Mase
The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants
2013, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT

How fortunate there's a growing recognition that we need to eat real food! Still, there is a deficit. Despite the availability of organics in our markets, there seems to be a problem producing wholesome food in an affordable, sustainable way. In addition (and ironically), markets with the most vibrant and green whole fresh food sections also devote aisles of retail space to the bottled discoveries "missing" from our food. Are we truly enriched by ingesting powdered and encapsulated combinations of isolated chemicals? For eons, humans have gathered and consumed their essential food requirements without the need for high-potency capsules or marketed powders and pills. Our reliance on (and trust in) the for-profit supplement industry to make and keep us healthy is something previous generations would find baffling, if not downright bizarre!

In The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter, and Tonic Plants, herbalist Guido Mase skips the laboratory-created supplement aisle and instead focuses deeply on how to use three plant categories for mind and body wellness. Calling for a return to daily traditional cuisine, Mase draws on his storytelling skills to reveal both the historic and contemporary uses of aromatic, bitter and tonic plants. Venturing into biochemistry and human physiology, Mase adeptly explains how these special plants work in consistent and predictable ways to improve neuromuscular tone, aid digestive and metabolic activity, and even adjust our genetic expression, the way our cells read our DNA. Creating wild botanically based soups, salads, teas, spirits and tinctures make it easy to regularly include these plant categories into our lives.

With little effort, the aromatic plants (peppermint, lemon balm, linden, ginger and garlic) can be made into teas and baths. With a direct link to our ancient brains, the volatile oils of the aromatics reach the feeling centers of our limbic system and help regulate and relax tense organs and release tension. Unlike other medicines, plant-based healing isn't hyperspecialized. Ginger, for example, well known for soothing an upset stomach, also can improve a sluggish digestive system. The bitter plants (wormwood, dandelion, burdock and yellowdock) also ignite digestion and activate our metabolism. We don't need a whole diet of bitter plants, but we do need a modest amount. Roasting dandelion root as a substitute for coffee is a satisfying way to consume bitters. And when used regularly, bitter plants slow sugar from entering the bloodstream. The tonic plants (chocolate, astragalus, red reishi and hawthorn) restore harmony and balance. Tonic flavonoids protect cells, nourish the immune system, and are anti-inflammatory. Known as "divine mushrooms" for over two thousand years, modern research is fascinated with the legendary red reishi to control blood pressure and boost immunity. Even small doses of these fungi can reduce allergy symptoms, such as hay fever and chemical sensitivities, almost instantaneously. While broken bones and massive infections are best treated by other means, consuming plants such as bitter dandelion, aromatic peppermint and tonic mushrooms every day (or nearly every day) as part of a regular diet will eliminate "wild plant deficiency syndrome" and nourish health naturally.

Gail Lord is a freelance writer living in Massachusetts. Please send book review copies to 51 North Street, Grafton, MA 01519 or email