Plant Spirit Medicine is defined as household shamanism. It is an energetic form of natural healing combining the use of the intelligence of the ‘spirit’ aspect of the plant kingdom, within the framework of Five Element Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.

Practitioners trained in this ancient shamanic skill call on the spirits of the plants to heal and balance the elemental energies and meridians of the client on a very deep level, so that the client is able to be healed on the level of the spirit, helping one to find health, balance and harmony in all aspects of ones life.


Humanity has had an intimate relationship with the plant kingdom as far back as people have been on this Earth. Used for clothing, shelter, food, medicine and more, plants provide our basis for living in many ways. In traditional, earth-centred societies, plants were used not only as food, but also for medicine. Today, although herbal remedies are increasingly used, they are usually taken for physical symptoms. However, the physical herbal remedy predominantly helps only the body. Healing on the deeper levels of the mind and spirit are given little regard or are ignored completely. Since the deepest causes of ‘dis-ease’ are most often on the level of the spirit, the deepest medicine is also on the level of the spirit – healing at the cause of the imbalance is achieved on the level of spirit to spirit.


Plant Spirit Medicine (PSM), is the use of the spirits of plants to bring healing to the spirit of the person. This is a sacred and ancient way of healing that has its roots in shamanism, where elder-healers in a society would be a bridge for spiritual healing power to transfer from the plant world to the human. This tradition can be found on every continent, where some still live according to a world view, and experience, where everything that exists is an expression of the Divine Spirit. (The Australian aborigines call this ‘The Dreamtime.’) What the mystics knew centuries ago, and called Spirit, modern science now acknowledges. All creation is made from consciousness, intelligent energy or ‘the quantum field’ or ‘zero point energy.’

The elements of nature, like the plants, are in fact imbued with this higher quality of spirit existence. The elements that make up our existence (like minerals and water) also make up the existence of the plants. So like us, the plants can also ‘speak the language’ of the elements. Most traditions acknowledge at least fire, earth, air and water as being main aspects or elements of what our world is made of. Plant Spirit Medicine is based on Traditional Chinese Five Element system, which includes Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Regardless of the system or tradition, holistic world views acknowledge that all things are alive, and have a body, mind and spirit level of existence. The bestselling book The Secret Life of Plants (Tompkins & Bird) offers an in-depth look at plants as living beings.


Today this way of healing is now resurfacing, in part, through the work of Eliot Cowan, author of Plant Spirit Medicine. Eliot has a background as a successful acupuncturist, and trained with the internationally recognized master of Traditional Chinese 5 Element acupuncture, J.R. Worsley. Using this knowledge as a foundation, Eliot combined his experience as a Shaman trained in the Huichol Mexican tradition of spiritual healing into a form of healing now known as Plant Spirit Medicine. He terms this as ‘household shamanism,’ meaning this system of healing is a safe and effective means of helping one attain balance and harmony in life, by nourishing and healing ones spirit. When the spirit is healed, then ‘symptoms’ or other imbalances in ones life (physical, emotional and mental) tend to reduce and disappear over time.


The person trained in PSM establishes relationships with the spirits of plants in the local area and determines what ‘spirit medicine’ the plants have for people. This is like the ‘dreamtime’ where you shift your consciousness from the normal waking state to one of a calm meditative focus on the spirit world. The practitioner meets with the spirit of the plant and receives a specific type of ‘spiritual medicine’ from the plant to heal and nourish the client. We then use this ‘medicine’ in a one-on-one clinical setting. No physical herbs are given.

The mechanics of PSM are simple, but nevertheless very deep acting. We use the method of taking the pulse (Traditional Chinese Medicine) as a means of determining the imbalances of the Elements. The Practitioner calls on the spirits of the plants to bring balance and healing to the client. This entails bringing alignment, symmetry and balance to the five elements and the 12 major energy meridians of the body and unblocks any energy that is not flowing as it should.


Treatments usually last about an hour, although the first visit is longer as it entails doing a thorough case history to get a complete picture of ones current health, past experiences and relationships. Treatment frequency depends on the clinical assessment of the practitioner, largely through the pulses, which will indicate how often treatments may be needed. Inevitably visits tend to be less frequent over time as one is able to sustain the state of being energetically balanced.

Some people may feel tired initially, and other may feel unusually energized. It all depends on the person. Over time, the plant medicine will help one to release older blocks and issues that may have been dormant in the mind/body for a long time. As this occurs one will attain to higher states of peace within and balance in more aspects in ones life. Ones connection to appreciation of nature tends to deepen. Relationships tend to become more genuine, and ones connection to the Divine becomes deeper. In short, one evolves along ones path further and further, finding higher levels of harmony with life in all aspects. A deeper sense of wisdom will is instilled as one lives in balance with self, others, the rhythms of nature and the Divine.