Natàlia Palahí: "Plants, like nature itself, have been, and will always be, the best teachers"
Natàlia Palahí, known online as Naturmentallers, is a florist, an expert in medicinal plants and natural cosmetics. She has always lived surrounded by plants and nature, but it was not until she was 26 that she took the step of training. His journey began in a bulk store, which served as a turning point: "there my vocation began to awaken, and it was the beginning of my training in fields such as phytotherapy, aromatherapy and natural cosmetics with the use of plants as main ingredients.
She has participated in television channels such as "Va de verd" and, currently, she has a space on the "Sense Control" program on Channel 4 Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, where she makes cosmetic formulas and talks about the uses of medicinal plants. In addition, Natàlia is dedicated to giving workshops to adults and children, in person and online.
You have dedicated your professional life to learning about the power of plants for natural medicine and cosmetics. What can nature teach us about science and technology? What have you learned in that search?
Nature is the source of conventional medicine. In other words, we must not forget that before the pharmaceutical industry, ailments and diseases were treated with medicinal plants. The plants were the remedies that were used, they were the medicine, and it was like that for a long time. Thanks to the assets of these plants, medicine was born and we currently have it.
Plants, like nature itself, have always been and will always be great teachers and inspirers, and they continue to teach us. To give an example, the "velcro" is inspired by the mechanism of the burdock flower, whose flower has that mechanism. And so, many things.
Wild plants are, for example, indicators of the nutrients of a land, they give information to farmers about the state of the land (nitrates, potassium), that was something that surprised me a lot. Depending on which plants grow naturally, they know if the soil is good or if it lacks some type of nutrient
What advantages do medicinal plants have compared to conventional medicines? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
In my opinion, natural and conventional medicine should not be separated or opposed. As I said before, one stems from the other and they are perfectly complementary. Medicinal plants are preventive health, prevent or delay certain pathologies or tendencies, such as Alzheimer's (with Ginkgo biloba), pumpkin seeds (to prevent inflammation of the prostate), in addition to treating the individual as a whole (this includes mood as well) and to relieve certain symptoms (tummy aches, nerves, anxiety, coughs, colds...) This does not mean that we do not need conventional medicine to treat more acute diseases or symptoms, when we require it.
To me, the advantage of medicinal plants is that they act in synergy, since they contains various active ingredients and it is this set that makes them so complete., in addition to oils, vitamins, minerals. They are, in general, less aggressive and invasive, what is certain is that they act more slowly, you have to be constant.
Instead, the conventional one, isolates the active principle that interests you from that plant or synthesizes it by increasing its concentration, leaving behind the rest of the active ingredients. They usually treat the ailment in general terms (headache, paracetamol for everyone), he does not pay attention to the origin of that headache (nervous, lack of sleep, lack of nutrients...), something that natural medicine or phytotherapy does.
“Natural and conventional medicine should not be separated or opposed. One is born from the other, and they are perfectly complementary”
How can we incorporate ancestral knowledge about medicinal plants into modern medicine?
As simple as going back to include plants in our day to day. Whether in infusion format, in the kitchen or in green smoothies. If we drank an infusion of thyme every day, we would prevent many colds and also increase our immune system and maintain a good intestinal flora, as it is antiseptic. Cooked nettles are a great source of vitamins, it is a very complete plant, full of iron (ideal for anaemic people). It is about recovering recipes and habits that, not so many years ago, our great-grandparents did in a normal and daily way. People went out to the fields to collect plants, either to cook or to dry and store in the medicine cabinet, this information was passed from generation to generation.
How do natural ingredients work in cosmetic products?
Within natural cosmetics, there are several categories. Some are made with organic products, others with % of vegetable origin, others with % of natural origin, etc. What they do have in common is the fact that they do not use raw materials considered toxic such as certain parabens, some dyes, additives and petroleum derivatives, among others.