Doctrine of Signatures

March 23, 2019

Have you heard of the Doctrine of Signatures?

It’s one of the methods used by herbalists and plant medicine specialists to know what a specific plant remedies. Looking at the shape + texture of the flowers, leaves, fruit and whole plant, you are able to discern indicators as to what part of the body it will most benefit!

In food it’s quite simple to see how this plays out:

  • Slice a carrot - it looks like an eye!
  • Kidney beans look like their namesake and they nourish the kidneys.
  • Walnuts look like a brain, and are said to help develop 36 different neurotransmitters.
  • Pears, eggplant and avocados supports the uterus and the cervix.

Scientists say that if a woman eats one avocado each week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And - it takes an avocado 9 months to grow!

    In herbal medicine the Doctrine of Signatures was used to identify benefits of plants as well.

    • Horsetail looks like bones and nerve fibers and is often included in tea formulas to build bones, teeth, skin, hair and other tissues.
    • Hollyhock leaves are soft & fuzzy to the touch, indicating that they are good for soothing and healing the skin, because the leaves are soft.
    • Euphrasia, or eyebright, flowers look a bit like eyes with long eyelashes, and are known for being one of the best remedies for eye conditions.
    • Ginseng root looks like a human being, and is used to heal the overall strength and condition of the entire body.

    Desert Mallow Flower Essence

    In flower essences you can see a similar trend:

    • Desert Mallow leaves are soft to the touch, and soft is the effect that this flower has on us - it helps us be more sweet-tempered with ourselves and feel more beautiful.
    • Mandevilla flower is for releasing attachment - when you look at the plant, it’s floral vines wrap around and attach to anything in proximity.
    • Bamboo, though not a flower, is an essence for determination, perseverance and making the impossible possible - it is a tree-like grass that grows up to 3-4 feet each day!

    The original advocate of the Doctrine of Signatures was a Swiss physician and medical professor by the name of Paracelsus. According to him, “Nature marks each growth according to its curative benefit.”

    Paracelsus was the same doctor that prescribed his patients dewdrops. When his patients experienced stress or emotional difficulties, he asked them to seek out specific flowers and drink the dew from the top of the flower. This was the old way of gathering flower essences - lucky we’ve developed more accessible methods since then! ; )

    Which fun Doctrine of Signatures did we miss? Share in the comments!

    Love + flower petals,