The Doctrine of Signatures
Hey, look at this! Chop a carrot and look at its inside. Looks a lot like a human eye, doesn’t it? Try it. Better yet, find an heirloom carrot, or maybe some of the mixed color carrots, and you will see an even more familiar “sight,” wink!
There are quite a few foods in nature that look suspiciously close to the human organ they benefit. This association was not lost on the ancients and has been explored through the ages by the great minds of their times. Hippocrates said the now-famous phrase “Let food be thy medicine.” Paracelsus claimed that “Nature marks each growth...according to its curative benefit.” Jakob Bӧhme (16th century) claimed that God marked plants with a “signature,” to help us identify its benefits. William Coles felt the same, and even Foucault argued the merit of the concept. Some plants were so well known to benefit the human body that their names developed directly from the benefits they give, such as toothwort or eyebright. These names are just an indication of how old this concept is.
While there are many plants and foods that follow these interesting patterns, there are also deadly or toxic plants that do as well - how fortunate that we live in an age where the collected wisdom of humanity can be searched at a glance so that we don’t have to make a deadly mistake when exploring the doctrine of signatures!
Here are just a few foods that have been scientifically proven to provide benefits to the organs they resemble:
- Ginger: Ginger resembles the stomach and is one of the best ways you can naturally cure nausea and motion sickness. it also aids digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Pomegranates: Pomegranates look like little blood cells, and a study out of Israel showed that pomegranates help blood flow and blood health in several ways.
- Walnuts: Walnuts look like the brain, with their folds and wrinkles. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, the building block of the more than 100 billion cells in the brain. Omega-3’s aid the function of neurotransmitter receptors.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are red and have chambers just like the human heart.
- Mushrooms: A sliced mushroom looks like the human ear. They contain Vitamins C, D, and E, all which help guard against cellular damage in the ears and blood vessels.
- Grapes: Grapes look like the alveoli of the lungs, and are full of antioxidants and resveratrol, which supports free movement in the cells of the nasal passages and lungs.
- Carrots: The most well-known signature, carrots contain beta-carotene, a vitamin that protects eye health, especially in older people.
- Celery: Celery looks like your bones, with that same good crunch! This alkalizing veggie is full of Vitamin K, which is necessary on a cellular level for bone health. It also has calcium, folate, manganese (for the synthesis of connective tissue in the bone), and magnesium.
- Kidney beans: Kidney beans are self-explanatory, aren’t they? They are rich in magnesium and potassium, which help keep the kidneys free from buildup.
- Sweet Potato: This yummy french fry option closely resembles the pancreas. That makes sense, as it is a low glycemic carb that helps support even blood sugar, making the pancreas's job easier.
- Figs: This one is a bit of low-hanging fruit, but have you ever noticed that figs hang in twos and are full of seeds contained in a sac? Their appearance may be why they have long been a symbol of male fertility. Now science has revealed that figs actually can increase sperm motility and quantity. It’s nuts!
If you are like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about what is the truth, our purpose, and what we have a responsibility to do for the coming generations and how we respect life, time, and the body we have been gifted. Enjoy digging through the rich history and building your own thoughts around the Doctrine of Signatures. I did!