'Ghost Pipes' Nature's Hidden Gem (Monotropa Uniflora)
Walking through the woods in Maine you're bound to see an abundance of plant life, but if you keep your eyes down towards the hummus in deep and shady woods, you might just be lucky enough to have a ghostly white figure catch your eyes.
These plants have earned their name due to their translucent appearance. Unlike most plants, it contains no chlorophyll pigments giving it a translucent image. The Ghost Pipe does not rely on photosynthesis as most plants do, but has found another way to absorb nutrients. It has formed a parasitic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi found on the roots of trees. There are only 3,000 species of plants that obtain their nutrients from another source other than photosynthesis, ghost pipes are one of them. They grow in most all of the United States, with the exception of the midwest. It only blooms for one week annually, making sightings rare.
What are the health benefits of 'ghost pipes'?
Resembling that of a spine and brain stem, these plants have been known to assist the nervous system in aiding the modulation of sensory input. For many years in Western Herbal Medicine they have been used to help those in physical pain. Ghost pipes do not rid the body of the pain, but help put a person beside their pain making it more tolerable to deal with and increasing their pain threshold. It works in a similar way for emotional troubles. It has been known to assist with, acute anxiety, panic attacks due to sensory overload, and psychotic episodes due to traumatic memories.
The harvesting and utilization of 'ghost pipes'.
Tinctures have been proven to be a prefered method of plant utilization of herbalists for centuries. It is one of the best ways to extract the beneficial properties of a plant and the ghost pipes are no exception. I currently have two jars of tinctures soaking myself. All you need is a pure alcohol of 100 proof or more (I prefer 'Everclear' as it's actually an extractor) a sealed jar, and a small harvest of ghost pipes.
To get the most out of the plant you will want to put the plant directly into a pre filled jar of the alcohol in the field, as it loses potency the longer you wait. When harvesting be sure to be responsible and only take a few flowers from each cluster, thus preserving them for the future and respecting the delicate ecosystem that produces this miracle flower. I like to have my mason jars all filled before I get to the woods. I bring a sharp pair of scissors so I can easily harvest this delicate plant. You want to harvest plants that have their 'bell shaped' flower still hanging towards the forest floor. When you have located a cluster, I personally take the stem and flower. Some suggest using just the roots of the flower and some say just the head of the flower itself, but many have found great success utilizing all protruding parts of the flower. After I have clipped the flower just above the exposed portion from the forest floor, I then clip them into smaller bits directly into the mason jar of alcohol releasing more of its beneficial properties. You want to make sure all plant matter is fully submerged under your extractor of choice.
The tincture should then be covered and sealed for 2-6 weeks. It will turn a beautiful, deep violet color within the first day. I recommend giving your jar a shake once a day and keeping it in a dark, cool and dry place.
When it has sat for the recommended time, strain using a cheesecloth and store in airtight container. I recommend using topically as this can be absorbed through the skin easily. A few drops will go a long way by simply rubbing onto the afflicted area. It can also be ingested however, reactions may differ. Please do some of your own research before deciding if this method is for you. "Recommendations for dosing according to Dr. Drum, which advise starting with 3 drops and increasing dose to 30 drops upon observation of reaction. For acute states, it is possible to administer or take up to 1 ml at 5 minute intervals. Dr. Drum notes that 15 ml of more can induce a deep sleep with strange and vivid dreams. I will mix a few drops with water. The flavor is very earthy and floral.
We can find many solutions to our problems directly in nature. Learning these things will hopefully build for a more self sustaining future for us all, one that relies less on large pharmaceutical companies and more on spending some time in nature and learning how the Earth provides what we need.
Keep on seeking light,