If there is one thread that weaves the aspects of my healing journey together into a unique form, it would be the flora.
Flora is a term to describe life of the plant kingdom. It is also the colloquial term for microbiotica. Both the plant kingdom and the microbiotica have brought me closer to healing my mind, body, and relationship with the macrocosm itself.
By healing with food, herbs, barks, fungi and flowers, I was able to overcome various microbial and fungal infections, parasites, and I found peace with debilitating chronic illness and autoimmune disease.
In a similar way, healing my Microbiome, working with fungi, and rewilding my gut also brought me to this same place within my body.
Through the symbiotic relationship between the flora and myself, I was able to find deep healing.
The flora has always had an embedded relationship with fauna (animal beings, like yourself). Humans and plants were not only able to breathe through their symbiotic relationship with plants (the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen of course), but also could thrive through means of gathering food, herbal medicine, and ceremony.
Early humans’ instinctual modes of small farming and gathering led to larger populations of plants. We are from the land. Plants became a reliable source of food, versus scarce meat and modern agriculture.
The Flora Benefit
Sometime after we became fully formed mammals, humans would eat various plants, and deposit their seeds while traveling— either nomadically or by means of surrounding habitats. We contributed to the full formation of the life cycle of plants. We still do this through land tending, gardens, and permaculture. As we relearn the ways of the old, we find our roots by relearning land tending from indigenous cultures around the world.
Some 200,000 years ago, humans began to use plants as medicine to aid in ingestion, wound healing, and in healing ceremonial practices. Through these practices, humans benefited. We used trees to sleep, plants in our homes to provide dopamine chemicals and oxygen, and to excite our eyes through color transmission; which led us to feel safe and supported by the hues of the flora.
Plants and people have a long and deep history of living symbiotically with one another. Long before extractions and using singular chemical constituents for medicine, we found the threads of healing through the flora.
Microbiotic Flora and Humans
The microbial flora has a similar journey with the fauna. However, for most of our human existence it was done through unseen eyes— a natural symbiotic relationship with animals and humans.
Today, thanks to a microscope, we can see these tiny beings and have become increasingly aware of their presence and relationship to both our health and environment.
However, much of how we have lived with microbes has changed— for the better and worse.
Germ theory changed how we viewed the world— including diseases and our bodies. Germ theory was introduced in 1861. In terms of all of human existence, this is a relatively short time. It introduced a modern war on germs, which certainly dominates the world of medicine today.
With this change, we have forgotten that some bacteria work for us— not against us.
Humans have about 5 pounds of bacteria in their bodies (that’s about the size of your brain). We house bacteria in our appendix. The appendix acts as a storage facility for our bodies. This relationship with our appendix greatly affects our health, as bacteria influences our health as well.
Bacteria functions as if it is a part of your body. However, it is intricately different. Bacteria has a symbiotic relationship with you. When you eat, the bacteria feasts on sugars, and by doing so, breaks down your food so the rest of your digestion and bodily functions can progress as normal.
Furthermore, bacteria play a vital role in your immunity. They help determine foreign invaders in the body to keep it in balance (for their own colonies and for you). They determine what is self (your bacteria in your body) or non-self (a forgiven invader).
This discovery of our relationship with bacteria opens doorways to new research on bacteria and autoimmune diseases. Bacteria play a role in monitoring inflammation, digestive disorders, the nervous system, and skin health. With chronic illness on the rise, it is impossible not to look to the microbial flora for answers.
This mutual relationship has been a benchmark for vital human health, and as we learn more about our relationship to these microbes, we can see how we can cultivate a holistic relationship with them like our ancestors once did— no microscopes needed. However, there must be a balance between holistic practice and other medical protocols.
Working with Nature
The flora and its relationships with plants and bacteria is something that will always be fascinating to me. It has truly become the biggest player within my health journey and encapsulates the true foundations of my work and practice.
To work with nature, we must look to these relationships within the natural world. Where is our balance? Is there more to this story? What elements of nature bring me to holistic and vital health? What did my ancestors do?
These are the questions I always ask myself. The answers have brought me closer to nature by not only questioning the modern health narrative, but have also brought me into harmony with nature itself.
We are not separate from nature, we are of nature. It is the elements of nature that bring us closer to healing and wellness.