April 25, 2014

My 3 Favorite Medicinal Trees

Today is Arbor Day in my neck of the woods. The exact date may vary for you based on your growing season but spring is planting time. It is a good time to stop and contemplate the value of trees and to express some gratitude for all the benefits they provide us. I think we all have some favorite trees, either as a species or particular trees that bring up fond memories. As a kid we found a “monkey tree” down by the river that was THE BEST for climbing – it had lots of low bouncy branches like a carnival ride and just seemed to love kids. I also remember a particular willow tree whose long branches created a secret sacred space to sit and read or just think. And then there are those beautiful flowering trees with their sweet scent, delicious fruit tree, big cool shady trees…oh how to pick a favorite?

We all know that trees are good for us. They benefit us in so many ways. They clean the air, combat the greenhouse effect, provide us with oxygen, keep us cool, provide us food, and prevent soil erosion and flooding and so much more. The one thing people often overlook when it comes to trees is the medicinal value that they provide. Since it is so hard to pick a favorite all around tree I decided to pick my top three favorite medicinal trees. There are so many trees with medicinal value that this was no easy task either. Here we go:

     1) Palo Santo 

          Palo Santo is a tree that grows along the coasts of Central and South America whose name literally means “Holy Wood”. It is often used like sage for smudging or burned as incense.  It cleanses any negative energy and is used in ceremonies for purification, and protection, as well as attracting fortunate events.  Its heavenly smell can instantly raise the vibration of all who encounter it. It feels wonderful and fresh to be smudged with the smoke of Palo Santo. It has many other healing properties as well when made into a tea or oil.  It has anti-bacterial properties.  It can be used as a pain reliever.  And it is also currently undergoing studies on it's ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

      2) Sandalwood 

          Sandalwood was becoming endangered but it is now being cultivated in Australia and Hawaii in addition to the East Asian and Indian origins. Sandalwood is one of my favorites because it can benefit us physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is used for it's wonderful fragrance in perfumes and incences and it's scent is said to ward off evil.  It can be made into a paste which is very cooling and does wonders for the skin.  It has anti-bacterial properties and can be used in so many ways from perfume to mouthwash to deodarant and facial masks. It calms the spirit and is very good for any kind of mental stress. Sandalwood combats fear which I believe is the underlying source of all illness.

     3) Pau d’Arco

          Pau d'Arco are flowering trees which are absolutely beautiful. The bark of these trees is extremely powerful medicine which can be used for a wide range of health concerns. This tree is special because it contains a number of active compounds in just the right proportions so that they act synergistically in ways that they can't do alone.  It is anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral, a great immune booster, pain reliever and more. Research is ongoing on the benefits of this plants and it is currently being studied as a cure for cancer! Historical research was slowed by the desire to isolate the single compound responsible for the beneficial effects.

So there they are my top three. I had so much fun writing this post I might have to write more tree lists just because they are fun to think about. I hope reading this post made you stop and contemplate the value of trees for just a minute on this Arbor Day. Did you remember some important trees in your life? I would love for you to leave a comment below about your favorite tree.

Remember – the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.