Hot summer in the high desert with 100 degree days, makes one seek out the shade that’s at least 10 degrees cooler. The hotter it gets, thankfully, the stronger the breeze. I love the dry desert heat so long as I can cool off throughout the day. We have Oak Creek that runs through the canyon and into Sedona. It’s very cold water is fed by aquifers up in the canyon with a myriad of swimming holes along the way to
Sedona. A dip is the cure.

Lessons from the Plants

I think about all the desert plants that thrive here in this extreme environment. How they can survive for many months without noticeable rainfall and still maintain themselves. These plants teach us how to survive in the desert, their medicinal action is due to secondary metabolites that form healing complexes in the human body. We share the same ecosystem and have the same environmental stressors as the plants.

The Prickly Pear

For example, prickly pear, Opuntia englemannii, stores moisture within it’s pads. During lean seasons without rain, it slowly gets thinner and thinner until it gets a bit wrinkled. But the rains eventually come back to the desert in the form of monsoons and quenches the thirsty landscape. The pads are composed of fiber & pulp that holds water for a long time. It still manages to bud in the early summer, flower in such exquisite beauty that the honey bees love sleeping in the blossoms. They then put out enough fruit for humans and animals alike. It’s done away with leaves that can cause loss of moisture and is replaced with protective spines. Not too many animals eat it, only the javalina when they feel the need. They would rather go for the roots. You might think that that would kill the plant but the pads don’t really need roots as they can root themselves anywhere they touch the ground. What an excellent survivor. What do we learn. We know the fruits are cooling and not to eat more than 1 or 2, as too many of them over cool at the core level, lowering body temp too low. The pads are a medicine for type II diabetes, modulating blood sugar levels and inhibiting gluconeogenesis and externally cooling sunburned skin. That ‘s just for starters.

Each plant in the desert is a jewel that if one takes the time to learn, one sees the desert with new eyes.

Come learn how to use them to keep yourself healthy and explore new horizons.

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