the healing of òsányìn / "learning our herbs... to extract the healing properties of plants for our bodies' benefit"

exclusive feature
Sawdayah Brownlee
{Brooklyn, NY}
The Liberator Magazine

"Òsányìn Èrí Máā Awo / A Wè Lító Sú Máā Àdó. (Òsányìn/Osayin is habitual evidence of mystery / We wash to possess the training to always sow medicine gourds.)"
— A praise song to Òsányìn

"Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own."
— Dr. Wangari Maathai (Maa Kherw*)


The Healing of Òsányìn: Home Remedies and Learning Our Herbs

Òsányìn is the Orisa, borne from the Yoruba faith Ifá, that manifests himself as the "maintenance of health and the prevention and alleviation of physical, spiritual, and mental disease" and resides in "the forest, mother of clouds, grandmother of rain, keeper of the earth, and protector of respirating life."** Humankind’s parables of the earth and her fruits and its relationship with people has always been symbiotic. Therefore, it should not be a foreign concept for the individual to heal herself with her environment.

The idea of using the earth to heal wounds and pains indefinable by anyone except the afflicted is one that early (wo)man began and has continued since our existence, becoming more "sophisticated" with time. This sophistication, however, is one that in many cases is unnecessary and fueled by profit. The pharmaceutical industry is such an example. The source of efficacy for many painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and antidepressants prescribed to patients from their physicians comes from a plant. While this industry ridicules homeopathy and home remedies and attempts to convince the consumer that herbs are either highly toxic or have no healing power at all, its roots lie in the recipes for teas, salves, and tinctures, shared amongst the oldest of cultures, of ancient herbal medicine. (The largest difference are the chemical compounds created in labs -- most often for copyright purposes -- that make up most pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drugs.)

The connection between Òsányìn and those called to the vocation of agriculture or simply searching for more direct ways to heal themselves is a link available to all. Approaching the earth in a respectful manner, we all have the ability to extract the healing properties of plants for our bodies' benefit. In turn, with the organic act of harvesting by hand, we help in restoring the soil to a better state.

Revolutionizing the way you live is a difficult process when surrounded by "cheap" alternatives that (you have been conditioned to think) taste better. While we struggle for a holistic, healthy lifestyle, here are some common herbs and weeds, that you can find in your kitchen, back yard, or park, which are highly effective for general health and specific ailments -- and always free. Because herbs can be deadly when used in the wrong form or dosage or mistaken for a poisonous look-a-like you should consult a guide*** or a licensed herbalist/knowledgeable person on herbs. Exhibit caution where you pick due to pollution and toxic chemical wastes where some weeds reside.

Below are a few common herbs and weeds used for healing:

A common weed throughout the U.S., its roots can be made into a tonic for kidney & liver problems. It is also used to treat acne, abscesses, and bacterial infections. The flower, leaves, and roots can be used for medicinal purposes. Dandelion root capsules (made from gelatin) are common in most grocery/produce stores. If you are allergic to gelatin or do not consume pork products do not ingest gelatin capsules.

Another common weed throughout the U.S. in fields resembling gold-tinged wheat, its healing properties are akin to another potent weed, goldenseal. It can be used as an astringent, as it is anti-fungal (and anti-inflammatory), as well as for issues of the digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems.

While this weed is notorious for inciting harsh allergic reactions and hayfever, it also possesses many health benefits. This herb can be made into a tincture to extract its healing powers of "regulating the liver", which "stimulates gastric flow and can cleanse the appendix."

This popular cooking herb strong in flavour is also strong against parasites and bacteria. Its oil is effective in killing intestinal parasites, treating acne, and boosts the immune system by stimulating growth of antibodies.

Red and White Clover
This weed is now used throughout the world as a cover crop and/or pasture crop for its ability to infuse the soil with nitrogen. Recorded as first used by Cherokee, Algonquin, Iroquois, & other indigenous American populations as a treatment for the common cold, fevers, and coughing, the herb has been validated by chemists as a preventative measure against symptoms of the common cold and syphilis.

Read more on common herbs and weeds used medicinally:,, "The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature’s Medicines" by Michael Castleman, "The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual" by James Green. -END-

* English translation: "True of voice"

** "Four New World Yoruba Rituals" by John Mason

*** "A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants: Eastern & Central North America" by Steven Foster and James A. Duke is a thorough book with coloured pictures and detailed explanations.

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