Herbalism is the art of working with plants medicinally, and that includes knowing when a plant is better left alone. Sometimes, our sense of spiritual connection to a plant can be ego-driven, making us think we personally are called to work with it despite a very different message from nature.
Take Ghost pipe for example. Renee Davis of Goldroot Botanical Medicine writes about how the over-popularization of this herb could endanger it. Because Ghost pipe is rare and uncultivable, using it too much can go beyond what the ecosystem can sustain. She explains out that "Ghost pipe serves a unique ecological function… just like all plants. This plant doesn't exist to serve us."
Davis goes on to make the crucial point that "a spiritual relationship with a plant does not give you permission to do whatever you want."
Ghost pipe may have analgesic and anxiolytic properties, but it's far from unique in that regard. Davis suggests alternative herbs that are more commonly available, such as:
- California poppy
- Jamaican dogwood
Read more of Davis's thoughts on the ethics of herbalism over at Gold Root Herbs.