Evolutionary Herbalism – Ben Greenfield Fitness


When I interviewed Gordon Wilson in the show “Are Christians Destroying The Environment? A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the “Dominion Mandate.”, I mentioned a book called “The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Buhner, describing the innate intelligence built into the plant kingdom, and the loss of natural connectivity we rational, scientific humans have developed when it comes to the plant kingdom.

Since then, I’ve continued my interest in the, shall we say, more spiritual, medicinal, and little-known aspects of the plant kingdom, including trees, leaves, roots, herbs, flowers, flower essences, essential oils, plant medicines, and beyond. One book I’ve discovered along the way is “Evolutionary Herbalism: Science, Spirituality, and Medicine from the Heart of Nature” by today’s podcast guest, Sajah Popham.

In the book, weaving together herbal and medical traditions from around the world into a singular cohesive model, you’re guided from an herbal practitioner’s point of view to a comprehensive understanding of the practice and philosophy of healing with herbs. Sajah presents an innovative approach to herbalism that considers the holistic relationship among plants, humans, and the underlying archetypal patterns in Nature. Organized in five parts moving from the microcosmic to the universal, this work explores a unique integration of clinical herbalism, Ayurveda, medical astrology, spagyric alchemy, and medical and esoteric traditions from across the world into a truly holistic system of plant medicine. A balance of the heart and the mind, the science and spirit of people and plants, Evolutionary Herbalism provides a holistic context for how plants can be used for transformational levels of healing for the body, spirit, and soul. For both the student herbalist and experienced practitioner, Popham’s original perspectives guide you to a more intimate, synergistic, and intuitive relationship with the plant kingdom, people, and nature as a whole.

Sajah Popham’s mission is to share knowledge, tools and medicine that spread the healing power of plants – to not just heal our bodies of disease, but to assist in the evolution of human consciousness back into its natural state. His holistic focus is on finding the universal principles and practices across herbal traditions and using plants in a way that not only brings about physical healing and rejuvenation, but psychological and emotional health, and spiritual transformation. He holds a degree in Herbal Sciences from Bastyr University and has studied herbal traditions across the world and with some of North America’s top clinical practitioners.

His unique approach integrates not only clinical Western herbalism, Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, but also the practices of Medical Astrology, Spagyric Alchemy, and western esotericism. Sajah’s approach unites these traditional models in a way that utilizes the whole plant (chemistry, energetics and spirit) to heal the whole person (body, spirit and soul) by getting to the root causes of disease. He lives in the Pacific Northwest forest with his wife Whitney.

During our discussion, you’ll discover:

-What exactly does your “day job” look like, and how did you get interested in herbalism in the first place? (talk about your studies at Bastyr, how you got there, what you learned, and what you do now – this question may rabbit hole quite a bit, but we have time!)

-on page 8 you say that you think the current chaos and imbalance in the world is due in part to the relationship between humans and plants being so unconscious for so long. Can you expound on what you mean by that?

-What exactly is a vitalist model of medicine? (can also get into vitalism as related to plants on page 163 if this is a good place to do it)

-How is molecular herbalism different than vitalist herbalism? (Page 11 and 12)

-What is evolutionary herbalism and how does it compare to the two? (pg 15)

-How are plant’s electromagnetic, and has that electrical field ever been measured or studied? (pg 33 and 50 and 67)

-You say there is lots of research showing plants displaying communications within themselves and with their environments. Can you give examples (pg 57)

-Why do you say plants are the greatest biochemists of nature? (pg 62)

-What’s the song of a plant? (pg 63, related to Amazonian herbalism, etc.)

-What is a good approach to know a plant when you come across it in nature? (page 69)

-What do you think about plant id “apps” like PictureThis or FlowerChecker? (vs. approach on pg 70)

-Why are most folks superficial with their understanding of the doctrine of signatures? (pg 96-97, etc.)

-Can you walk me through how you would use a “sympathetic medicine” approach on a patient who came with some kind of specific complaint? (pg 105, etc.)


-How do plant parts correspond to specific “elements”?

-Have you ever heard of Dr. Thomas Cowan and his vegetable powders? Curious because he’s a Rudolf Steiner follower and I use his powders quite a bit.

-How can you know what type of elemental human you are? Is there some kind of quiz or questionnaire somewhere?

-What are the 3 Principles of Alchemy? (pg 127)

-What are the 5 keys to study a plant? (pg 264)

-Can you give an example of two about how you would “type” a plant based on Elemental principles (I like the examples of burdock and nettle in your book, btw) (pg 296 on)

-What is the spagyric process for transforming a plant? (pg 407)

-If time: Tell me a little bit about the chapters you “cut” from the book and what’s in those? (I did something similar for my last book Boundless)

-You should come out to my house sometime in Spokane and do a plant walkabout with my and my sons and wife! You are welcome anytime! Would be cool to do some videos to promote our podcast together. We live on 10 acres of forested land with a ton of plants, so would be quite interesting.

Resources from this episode:

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Sajah Popham or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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