We Owe Our Lives to the Leaves

Recently, Sarah Holmes on the Herbal Highway Podcast discussed the many ways that leaves support us. From shelter and food to providing us with oxygen, it turns out we cannot live without leaves.  Let’s look at the leaves and what they do for us.

A leaf is a principal appendage of the stem of a vascular plant. While the root is the inner most projection of the plant, the leaf is its outermost projection.  During photosynthesis, the leaves use chlorophyll and energy from light to convert carbon dioxide (which we release when we breathe out) into oxygen (which we require to breathe in)! in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange. The leaves of one tree can provide a days supply of oxygen for up to 4 people

Leaves as food

Leafy green vegetables include kale, collard, arugula, lettuce, spinach, romaine lettuce, and Swiss chard. The CDC has ranked these as some of the top “powerhouse” vegetables because they supply 10 percent or more of the daily value of 17 nutrients per 100 calories. They’re full of essential vitamins and minerals, like iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and vitamin K. Which leaves do you eat regularly? Which might you want to consider adding or trying?

Leaves as medicine

Leaves serve us as medicine when we eat them as food to supply us with nutrients.  However, in small quantities, certain leaves have additional medicinal properties.  For example, aloe vera has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound healing properties. Peppermint is antimicrobial and anti-septic and can provide relief for headaches and nausea. And holy basil (tulsi) leaves can relieve stress and improve sleep.

Listen to Sarah Holmes talk about her love of leaves on the Herbal Highway Podcast

Leaves as paper

Although 93% of paper currently comes from trees, certain leaves such as yucca, hemp, iris and lilies can be used to make paper.  The beauty of this approach is that deciduous trees shed their leaves each year and regrow new leaves in the spring. By using leaves to manufacture some of our paper, we lean into the natural rebirthing cycle of nature.


The leaves of one tree can provide a days supply of oxygen for up to 4 people.  Leaves such as spinach, kale and arugula are also nutritional powerhouses supplying essential minerals and vitamins and certain leaves can even be used to make paper, sparing the lives of trees and enabling lifecycle of leaves and their benefits to us to multiply.

The Self-Care Solutions newsletter allows you to personalize your approach to health and well-being.  It offers you choices.  Safe choices.  Evidence-based choices. The articles allow you to try on different options and see what works for you. Think of each as an invitation.

While not a substitute for care by your medical team, we’re here to support you in your quest for well-being!

Interested in Hero’s Journey Coaching?  Contact me at ruthannrusso@gmail.com or visit https://ruthannrusso.com/be-coached/


Reference Links

Well loved leaves, 94.1 KPFA Herbal Highway (Berkeley, CA) Podcast

Sarah Holmes, Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine

Effective Medicinal Plants in Cancer Treatment

Ginko Biloba Leaves – NIH Stat Pearls

Holy Basil (Tulsi) Leaves for Stress and Sleep

Properties of Aloe Vera and Its Major Constituents

Powerhouse fruits and vegetables, the CDC

The Power of One Tree:  The Very Air We Breathe, USDA



Dr. Ruthann Russo

I love assisting people on their hero’s journey towards self-transformation. A passion which is born comes partly from personal experience – I view my own life as a series of self-transformations. I have 20+ years of education, training and experience, including being the CEO and founder of two health technology start-ups and global wellness consultant to Fortune 100 corporations.

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