Radical Medicine, by Loni McKenzie

Radical Medicine, by Loni McKenzie

I’m a sucker for a good ‘overthrow the authority’ movement. Rebels, radicals, and activists who are sick of injustice, oppression and exploitation, these are my people. Except I’m shy, and don’t really like crowds. My rebel spirit is strong, it’s just kind of an introvert. Most of my radical, smash the patriarchy work takes place quietly, in the garden.

I’m a plant medicine maker, and keeper of medicinal gardens. Normal, everyday plants that support our bodies and spirits. Many of them I don’t even cultivate. They grow themselves, wild around the edges of yards, gardens, paths and fields. Eating, growing and using these plants makes me a little wild around the edges too, more willing to break rules that need broken and do what I want. I’ll bloom wherever I damn well please, thank you very much. 

Despite all attempts at eradication, dandelions and their rebellious buddies are still here. Popping up and thriving, whether they’re welcome or not. Hanging out, doing their work, maintaining biodiversity and character amongst the homogenized, high maintenance yards and public spaces. They don’t make a big deal out of it, but they’ve made themselves clear. They do belong here.  

Wild plants are a much-needed lesson in resilience. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of ‘you are what you eat’. These plants are scrappy enough to take root in an abandoned field, and tough enough to thrive without any human coddling. They don’t need us, but it turns out, we might need them. They could be exactly what we need to remember our radical roots.  

Right now, I’m especially in love with bitter plants. When speaking of emotions, bitter isn’t too pleasant, walking hand in hand with resentment, disappointment and anger. Bitter plants though, are some of the sweethearts of plant medicine and have been used for millennia to balance the digestive and nervous systems. Good ol’ dandelion is the most common, reliable, easy to find and identify bitter. The whole plant is edible; leaves in salads, flowers fried up as fritters, roots roasted and brewed into tea. Each time I see one, popping up in a lawn where I know they’re not wanted*, waving its victory flag bloom, I take heart. We too are resilient. We too can overcome oppression and injustice. We too can be humble, persistent and scrappy revolutionaries. 

*Obviously don’t eat the ones that grow in THOSE lawns. You know, pesticides.