In old English, “Physic” connotes “healing” or perhaps “medicine.” An ancient principle is that the dose of any substance will determine whether it is a poison or a medicine for the human being. It is the fundamental principle of homeopathy, a system of medicine that starts with poison and turns it into medicine by changing the dose and the form. This principle is also key for many people in coming to a healing diet for themselves.
Plants, with the exception of their fruits, do not want animals to eat them. If animals or humans eat the plant’s roots, leaves or stems, then the plant usually dies or at least is severely compromised. To ward off being eaten, plants put chemical poisons in these components, which either taste bitter and unpleasant to the animals or actually poison the animal.
The dilemma is that these same chemicals that ward off animals in the plant seem to help prevent disease in animals. Again, this is because fundamentally our “survival of the fittest” model is a phony construct. What is happening is the plants and animals are working together to come to a creative compromise that works for everyone. It then becomes all about the dose.
The oxalate component of plants is one example of this principle at work. Plants put oxalates in their tissues as a protection against predation and because oxalates are beneficial chemicals that help detoxify tissues. The oxalate-containing roots, leaves and stems also contain other valuable nutrients for the consuming animals. And, as in plants, a small amount of oxalates in the diet helps detoxify the tissues of the animal eating the plant. In other words, a no-oxalate diet isn’t right because then you lose out on the nutrients found in the plants that contain oxalates, and a small amount of oxalates act as detoxifiers for our tissues.
On the other hand, a high-oxalate diet can even destroy our tissue, resulting in symptoms of disease. The solution, one that works for both the plant and the human, is a low-oxalate diet. This way, the plant gets only a small percentage of its tissues eaten; the animal or person gets the benefit of the nutrients in the leaves, roots and stems, as well as the mild detoxification benefit. It’s all about the dose, and the right dose is something that everyone must sort out for themselves through their own experience.
This is also why we created our Low-Oxalate Greens Powder, to get the best of both worlds, because as Shakespeare so aptly said, poison is medicine. It all depends on the dose.
If you look around your local farmers market, you will almost certainly see large heads of cabbage. If your favorite organic farm doesn’t already sell them, buy whatever medley of root vegetables they have, and use those instead. Homemade sauerkraut, kimchi or fermented root vegetables are a treat, and with refrigeration can last well into fall and beyond.
For this project, a special piece of equipment that I use, and you should as well, comes in very handy: a fermentation crock.
One of the first things to be finished in our garden will be our herb and rose garden. Created from the existing rock garden beds surrounding our patio, it will have sage, thyme, rosemary, summer savory, oregano — to name just a few herbs — as well as five large rose bushes. The beautiful pink and yellow lilies will remain. We got a good start on it this past weekend, unperturbed by the requirement to dig up some old shrubs and their roots.