Whether you are a healer, a witch, or a potions master, the science behind plants and their uses can be truly fascinating. Potions-making is a common thread throughout many fantasy novels and series but we don’t always take the time to really look at the potions our favorite heroes and heroines are using to see if those concoctions could actually work in the real world. Thanks to a panel at this year’s Comic-Con@Home featuring naturopathic doctor, DeJarra K. Sims, we get to do just that.
During the Eye of Newt, Wool of Bat: The Science Behind Magic Potions and Herbs panel, Dr. Sims sat down and gave viewers a rundown of some of her favorite fictional potions and the real-life herbs that make them work. Before we get started, a naturopathic doctor treats patients like any other doctor except they focus on diet and herbal medicines before resorting to things like surgery. Plants and herbs have been used by herbalists for centuries to heal the sick but many had to go into hiding lest they be deemed witches by the fearful Christians and burned or hung for their floral transgressions.
For many reasons, including keeping their best recipes a secret, many herbalists would give codenames to their ingredients, such as Eye of Newt (mustard seed) or Wool of Bat (moss). Most of modern medicine consists of the medicinal elements of plant knowledge known throughout history in an isolated form. People like Dr. Sims choose to get that medicine directly from the source.
Famous shows like “Game of Thrones” use fancy language to describe real-life uses like “milk of the poppy” which is just GoT speak for homemade opium. That’s right. They are talking about the good stuff, straight from the poppy pod teet. Potions from Harry Potter and “The Witcher” were broken apart and analyzed to some surprising results. I think that the biggest surprise to me, however, was that white sage is at risk due to overharvesting in the wild for smudge sticks. As a big user of herb bundles for smudging and cleansing, this one really hit hard for me. Sage is important because it LITERALLY cleanses the air of viruses, bacteria, and fungal spores when burned but it isn’t the only herb that can do that. Great alternatives are rosemary, cedar, juniper, and mint. Goddess knows we need all the cleansing we can get (thanks 2020) and these are great alternatives.
One of my favorite moments in the panel was her instructional guide on how to make a poultice: a paste of herbs to promote healing to a wound. She also shared three of her favorite potions that she creates for her real patients who have trouble sleeping, who need memory help or patients that need help with stress (aka everyone on Earth right now). Included were the ingredients and the doses for each to create the tincture.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable way to show the relationship between magick and science. Because it was just Dr. Sims and a slide presentation, some may think it a tad bit on the dry side, but I enjoyed it immensely. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Sims or naturopathy, you can follow her on social media @DoctorDJSims or head to her website, www.askdrdj.com.