Sunflower Medicine

Every year it seems I have one particular plant in the garden that vigorously self-seeded from a robust plant the previous year. This year’s plant is sunflower. Sunflowers are sprouting everywhere. Its not just in the garden the where I grew the sunflowers last year, sunflowers have self planted containers just filled with soil.


There is a saying that the plants that appear in abundance each year is the medicine that will be needed throughout the following months.


Looking at the all the sunflowers, I try to imagine what this year will bring. First Nation people of the prairies class the sunflower as bear medicine. Bears have the incredible ability go into a death like sleep for some many months, and return with vigour and force in the spring. Because of this, plants allied with bears build vitality, strength and endurance.


Myrna Pearman at the Ellis Bird Farm (the best place in Central Alberta to have lunch in my humble opinion) teaches that animals seek out sunflower seeds more than any other plant food. Sunflowers are dense in unsaturated fatty acids. In Alberta, although it never seems like in the middle of June, is a dry environment. People living in a dry environment tend to have dry scaly skin, dry mouths, eyes, hair, nails, bowel and throat. Munching on a handful of sunflower seeds offers the body moistening oils essential for smooth skin, shiny hair and good bowel movements. Nibbling on sunflower seeds can sooth a dry cough. The seeds were at one time a common ingredient in cough syrups. The oils contained in sunflower seeds nourish and moisten every cell in the body.


Sunflower’s oils are good for the nerves. Ancient physiologists considered the brain to be fat, a humbling thought in these brainy days. To a certain extend they were correct. Fat lines neurons and is essential for smooth and accurate transmission nerve signals. When suffering with foggy thinking, the first thing to do is increase the good oils in a diet. Sunflowers seeds contain those oils.


Sunflower seeds are very high in vitamin Bs, the stress reducing vitamins. Vitamin Bs support nerve function, are essential for good digestion and I always find taking Bs increases my energy levels


Sunflower seeds are good heart medicine. Sunflower seeds contain 86% of the daily requirement of vitamin E. Vitamin is important for caring for and protecting blood vessels from daily wear and tear. Studies have shown eating a quarter cup of sunflower seeds a day also lowers low-density lipids or the bad cholesterol!


Sunflowers seeds are chock-a-block full of protein, magnesium, iron and folate. Considering the compact, highly dense nutritional package called sunflower seeds, I can understand why sunflowers are aligned with bear medicine and so many animals seek them out in mid winter.


There is one more aspect to sunflower medicine that I find most interesting (although there are several things about sunflowers I have mentioned due to lack of space). Sunflowers remove heavy metals and radiation from soil. They also do this in the human body.


After the nuclear melt down in Chernobyl, sunflowers were planted throughout the area. The sunflowers absorbed so much radiation from the environment they had to be buried in nuclear waste sites.


In Ayurveda medicine from India, sunflower oil is used to draw heavy metals from the body. A teaspoon of sunflower oil is placed under the tongue two to three times a day and held there for 15 to 20 minutes or until the oil begins to burn. The oil is then spit out and brushing the teeth is recommended. This treatment continues until the oil no longer burns.


I am curious as why there are so many sunflowers in the garden this year. Will the animals need extra food next winter (I hope its not a repeat of last year’s frozen fury)? Or is there another environment disaster looming? Hopefully, it’s just that last year I planted particularly fecund sunflowers. In any case, I am having difficulty pulling these beautiful, healing plants from places where they should not be growing. 

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