Updated: May 17, 2020
The principle of using whole plant extract is an interesting one, and was explained to us by Rudolf Steiner. ‘The threefoldness of the plant and the picture of man’.
This threefoldness of the root, leaf and flower corresponds to the head, chest and lower abdomen in the human being.
The plant has its roots in the earth and its life force flows from the root up the stem and leaf to the flower, from the earth towards the heavens. The human being carries its head erect and its life force flows from the head downwards through the nervous and circulatory systems to the lower organs and the reproductive system.
In this sense the plant is rooted in the earth and the human is rooted in spirit. The plant roots spread out into the earth becoming almost part of it, the human head is individualised and contained. In other ways they have similar functions, in that the root and the head are the most alive and active parts and give directions to the rest of the body.
The stem and leaf of the plant has the same function as human circulatory and respiratory systems. They are the means of exchanging gases in air and of circulating these and nutrients around the whole of the body.
The flower and fruit of the plant correspond to the digestive and reproductive systems in the human. The flower cannot itself photosynthesise or absorb nutrients and so must digest what is provided to it by the main plant, transforming substances in the way that humans do with food, as in the formation of fruit and seed. The flower also generates heat during this process and maintains a higher temperature that the rest of the plant.
Both plants and humans absorb earth forces from below and solar and cosmic forces from above, these mix and circulate within the body creating the life force.
We can now see that when a human being ingests the whole plant tincture they insert the forces of each function into the corresponding parts. As well as containing the whole of the plant life force from spirit to matter the life flows in a different direction from plant to human, thus stimulating the circulation of life force with the human body.
If any of these plant functions are separated the life force does not act in a holistic manner on the human body. For these reasons we use whole fresh plants whenever possible. With some species such a Valerian and Inula, traditionally just the root is taken when dormant. Other species such as Hypericum or Calendula just the flowers are used. In these cases we still make a small amount of whole plant tincture in season, and stir and blend these together for improved action.
This is the basis of whole plant synergy that there are many active ingredients in the plant, all of which interact with each other within the recipient body. To fractionalise and separate is to reduce the potency of the tincture.