Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: the plant hunter

Plant Science: Some Final Thoughts

Who knew plant science could be so fascinating, or hold so many medical possibilities? Certainly not me!

“Conservation can’t happen in a vacuum. As long as humans are considered separate from – instead of part of – nature, such initiatives will likely be met with little success.” The Plant Hunter by Cassandra Leah Quave

plant science

Humans are not an invasive species. In fact, I’m not completely sure what would be an invasive species. Every species on this planet evolved right here along side of us in the grand scheme of things. We are all doing what comes naturally, improving on it, and continuing on our way.

For our species to continue, we need to start accepting the fact that we are part of things here, not a foreign invader. Yes, like every other species, at first it was survival of the fittest. We’ve gotten to this point in time and space by scrambling to the top. Now that we’re here, and we’ve evolved these big creative brains, let’s find ways to stabilize and make things easier.

She believes that, like other drugs that were first derived from plants, there are more out there. She wants to find and catalog the ones used by shamans and healers, investigate how they work, what they are made of, and find out if any of them can help us heal in new and innovative ways. She made ME excited about the possibilities and most science, especially medical, is beyond my understanding.

I really enjoyed reading The Plant Hunter. The author seems like a wonderfully talented and well-rounded person, and she shared her story in such a beautiful way, weaving the passion she has for her science all within the story of her life.

This is the way things should be presented. I have an adjusted viewpoint about science, university labs, medical care, plants, etc. because of the way she told it. This will be a book I pull off my shelf in the future and hand to a friend, maybe even a child. “Read this. It’ll show you another world of possibilities.”

I’m not just talking about the science she is so driven to search out and understand. I’m talking about the research and university life, grant writing, travel, parenting and relationship, all from a very intelligent woman with a prosthetic leg and foot. We all could learn a lot from her.

Don’t Give Me The Evil Eye

The Plant Hunter by Cassandra Leah Quave is every bit as good as I had hoped it would be, even better. It’s more of an autobiography of a scientist than anything else. It’s showing me a whole world I didn’t even know existed, its processes and struggles. The science is one thing, but the story behind it is just so interesting.

I keep think that this is how we should teach each other to appreciate what’s going on around us. Through personal stories we start to see how we are all connected. We see how our lives are the same and different. And we learn to appreciate and support other each other’s worldviews.

That’s not coming out how I want it to, but I’ll keep working on it. I’m trying to explain how I feel and I’m feeling a bit rushed. This book is another one showing me how little I know about the world.

Here’s something that caught my attention though and I wanted to share it with you.

“Evil eye is a complex, popular illness that refers to the ability of the human eye to cause or project harm when it’s directed at certain individuals or their belongings – a psychosocial disease linked to jealousy.” From The Plant Hunter by Cassandra Leah Quave

The word “popular” sticks out to me. I always think of popular as the best, or at least what everyone wants: the popular girl at school, pop culture, pop music, etc. But it also means, “representing, or carried on by the people at large.” Interesting.

A big part of why I love reading her work is because she doesn’t dismiss these kinds of things; she investigates them and incorporates them into her research. It’s a skill we all could use.

Most of us would dismiss the idea of the “evil eye” as being superstitious and silly, along with the “cures” for it. I smiled when I read this line because I’ve been the giver and the recipient of the evil eye many times in my life and every time it’s ruined everything I have. I’d do anything to avoid it now and I’ve been actively learning new ways (non-superstitious ones) to cure myself.

The evil eye is nothing but jealousy, envy, and greed. Everyone feels these feelings and they are not “bad” in and of themselves. It’s what we do with those feelings that causes the trouble. We don’t need to push them aside as evil or shove them down, pretending they don’t exist, either. We should be sitting with them, pulling them close, and asking ourselves where the hurt is coming from.

Instead of casting our eyes outward, giving someone the “evil eye,” we could cast them inward and look at ourselves, find the imbalance and solve it.

In the book, she says that in Italy where she was staying, every time she gave someone a compliment, they quickly insisted that she take the item. They were helping her and avoiding the evil eye. It makes me think of sacrifice. I’d rather give you what I have than cause you to go down that terrible road to ruin that is jealousy and envy.

I’ve struggled with these feelings a lot in my life. Most of it stems from a feeling of inadequacy on my part, and a lack of self-love. The past several years I’ve gotten a lot of practice learning to deal with these feelings in new ways. Loads of reflection time has helped me grow, but I still have a long way to go.

The Plant Hunter: New Read

My new book came in the mail yesterday, The Plant Hunter: A Scientist’s Quest for Nature’s Next Medicine by Cassandra Leah Quave.

the plant hunter

Remember when I said that I was going to read the books I already have on TBR shelf before I buy more? I lied. Ok, I didn’t “lie,” I changed my mind. Certain things have come to my attention that hadn’t occurred to me at the time I made that previous statement. Several times this past month I’ve sat there looking at those books, most of which came to me free when my friend moved out of state, and I thought, “I don’t want to.”

Choosing which book to read next is a complicated and sometimes emotional process. I find my books through podcasts, articles, and other books. Instagram and Facebook posts are another great source. But always, always, I feel like my next book calls to me from the now. So, I’ve decided to run with that. Those books on my TBR shelf are for when they come up in other ways or when I’m between leads. I’ll always have something to read on hand.

I started reading The Plant Hunter this morning and I’m every bit as entranced with author as I was when I heard her interview last week on People I (Mostly) Admire. I wrote about it in Legacy, Science, and Coincidence: A Podcast Roundup.

I love history and science wrapped up in personal stories, and this book fits that bill perfectly. It’s about her journey, where she came from, what she’s been through, AND the science of medicine that she loves so much. With every page, so far, her passion for medicine and people comes shining through. This is a person I can trust.

I’ve already learned so much about antibiotics that I had to interrupt my husband’s reading this morning to tell him. He’s not going to read it, so I MUST inform him! And I’ll try to show you some highlights as I read as well, in the hopes of enticing you to read it yourself.

I’ve heard about “superbugs” and the growing resistance to antibiotics, but I always thought I was safe. I’ve rarely been prescribed any anti-biotics and I can’t remember the last time my sons had any. Any bugs in our bodies can’t be resistant. Ignorance, yep.

The over-prescribing and misuse only speeds up the process of bacteria evolving to be immune to the antibiotics we have. Bacteria are just like us in that way, they learn to stay alive by trial and error. Those superbugs are out there, and they can get in me and then any antibiotics won’t work on them. The only way to solve that problem is to create new ones.

And that’s what this book is about. She’s on the hunt to find them based on plant medicine. You know, the way we found penicillin in the first place?

“…since the 1980s no new chemical classes of antibiotics have been discovered and successfully brought to market.”

I know antibiotics are a new thing in the world, but I didn’t realize HOW new. Only since the early 1940s has penicillin been commercially available. Another example of thinking how we live now is fundamentally how we have always lived. Like she said in the book, the invention of antibiotics was a game changer in much the same way harnessing fire was.

One more quote from The Plant Hunter before I run off to enjoy my warm Sunday in the desert. Sorry to all you cold climate people, I’m so excited to see spring that I can’t stand it!

“At the heart of science is the unalloyed thrill of discovery.”

It’s lines like this, scattered throughout the chapters, that spur me on to read through the more complicated science of it. It’s much the same reason I loved reading The Secret Life of Dust! Anything explained by someone who is in love with the topic is far more interesting than any other story, fact or fiction. This is stuff we should all know and understand, not just “experts” and “professionals.” This is how we make intelligent decisions for ourselves, not blindly follow the leader.

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