You Rubbed Your Cactus Where?? Eww... Yucca!

Can I share a little truth bomb?💣 You'd rather have someone rub a cactus all over your body than talk about the election for another minute..... am I right?! At this point, you feel like the winner was the fine people of Whoville because they didn’t have to deal with this stuff. So what are we going to talk about today? 🌵We’re going to discuss rubbing cactus all over yourself. 😳

OK, maybe that’s a little misleading. I don’t mean we’re going to pick a cactus and rub the thorns on our flesh. What I mean is that we’re going to discuss some of the amazing benefits of plants that you may not have considered before. In the back of your mind, you realized that aloe was beneficial and that it’s a plant, but you may NOT have realized that some of the greatest advancements in medicine are based on plants? We’re talking about antibiotics, chemotherapy, pain management, and hallucinogenics.

Man, I could use some hallucinogenics right now. 😬

We are actually going to check out some amazing plants from Southern Arizona, discussing such favorites as different forms of Aloe, Yucca, Agave, and Ambrosia (you thought it was just a dessert). 🌵

If you’re interested in discovering some of the amazing benefits of everyday plants, then stick around.

Growing up, using plants for medicine was, honestly, never something I thought about. Actually, it seems a little strange for me to be talking about it right now. While my family traveled around the country while I was growing up, there wasn’t a whole lot of variation in plant life in those different places. Every now and then you hear about people living off the grid, or surviving in the wilderness for a period of time, but rarely do I consider what plants I could eat, or what I could use for an upset tummy, or how to get a cup of tea out of the mix. But there is one thing I’ve learned in the desert, even here the plants are your friends. And yes, even the plants that seem to be telling you to go away have something to offer. 

Today we’re going to look at three surprise friends in the botanical family and what we can learn about using plants to help us with our health. 

Before we dig into our Saguaro adventure and look at some of those plants, I want to remind you that you’ve taken medicines and drugs before that are based on plants. What you may not have known is that they are made by recreating certain chemicals in the plant to gain a certain effect.

#2 is based on a chemical compound found in a handful of plants including wintergreen, birch, and white willow. This compound is Salicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin. 

#3 Are alkaloids taken from the Madagascar periwinkle plant. They are powerful enough to cause a slew of side effects and have been used in treating some of the most dreaded diseases in history. 

I’ll tell you what they are in a little bit. 

Before we reveal the third plant-based drug, let’s look at some of the beauties we saw at Saguaro National Park today.

  1. Soaptree Yucca   flowers and buds were used as food, the roots were used as a substitute for soap, and the leaves used for basketweaving

  2. Creosote - used to treat arthritis and allergies. Like a salve, it is strongly microbial and a moderate sunblock.

  3. Mormon Tea - used as a stimulant and to treat diabetes and respiratory illness. 

So back to the 3rd drug that’s based on chemicals obtained from plants (remember? We talked about it before we dug into the Saguaro plants). Vincristine and Vinblastine are intravenous chemotherapeutic agents used to find maps for cancers. 

One thing that may have run through your mind as you were listening to the three contemporary drugs and the three historical ones, is the question of side-effects. It seems pretty intuitive that someone using Creosote to treat allergies wasn’t having the same issues of side-effects as the person using Vincristine and Vinblastine. While there are many reasons for this I don’t want to bore you with the details today.

Suffice to say that your body recognizes plants as something useful. On the other hand, the more contemporary drugs listed are chemicals that are formulated in a lab. We know that drugs created in a lab are not recognized by our bodies in the same way. 

Watch the full video below: