Wikwemikong's Joseph Pitawanakwat teaches plants can heal
Joseph Pitawanakwat of Wikwemikong is writing a book about plant-based medicine
Joseph Pitawanakwat has a passion for the healing properties of plants. The 24-year-old from Manitoulin Island has spent the last year as a full time holistic health and plant educator.
His interest began a few years ago when he was studying music at college and his wife bought him a book on edible and medicinal plants.
"It was the first book I ever read," said Pitawanakwat, who left school to investigate the power of plants on his own.
"I took it upon myself, just pursued that knowledge. Everything is just sticking. I'm doing my own research. It's been super fun."
As a member of the Wikiwemikong First Nation, Pitawanakwat says he is continuing a family tradition.
"My grandmother Thecla Pheasant spent her childhood with her mother who was a midwife who really knew her medicine."
Pitawanakwat admits there are skeptics.
"I enjoy the controversy," he says. "Plant based-medicine is not always viewed as legitimate. I love proving things."
Willow, he says for example, has a signature feature of flexiblity.
"As you grow old you starting getting stiff and start developing things like arthritis. Willow is definitely the plant to look that's going to help you regain your flexibility."
One of his favourite plants is scouring rush which Pitawanakwat calls a bone medicine. He says it is "loaded with everything your bones need to strengthen themselves" including silica, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
He said his clients who drink a tea made from scouring rush have seen their bone density test results improve.
Pitawanakwat also points out that a cross section of scouring rush looks like the cross section of a human bone.
"Every plant has been created to heal specific parts of the body," he says.
Pitawanakwat is writing a book which he says is "designed to be as exhaustive as it has to be to legitimize plant-based medicine to the most stubborn of people."