I know that I was very hesitant to use herbs when I first set out on my own. I’m a very cautious person and the world is very good at scaring you into submission. After reading a segment of Practical Herbalism a something became clear to me.
Modern Western Medicine (allopathic medicine) has worked very long and hard at making us fearful of things we don’t know. They’ve done this in a few ways.
They’ve made it hard to learn the old ways of herbalism, squashing out any one who once studied or taught these ways.
They’ve broadcast all the terrible things that can happen when you try and step out of their box of allopathic medicine.
They created associations that set rules of how medicine should safely be practiced and in these rules they completely disregard or tear down anything that is not their form of medicine.
Because of lobbying, financial means and the right people in high places, allopathic medicine has reigned supreme for many years now. They have done a good job at placing fear in the hearts of people who would like to try a different way. I know because I was one of them for a while.
I believed that I should trust only what certain medical professionals promoted as safe. Now that my eyes have been open to the puppet masters pulling the strings for personal gain I am a skeptic when it comes to popular opinion and scientific proof. If it’s not allowed to be studied or hasn’t been studied than how do we know whether it works or not. There is the proof that as come from centuries of successful use but we are often guided away from that sort of thinking back into the allopathic box.
Yet despite their scientific studies, surgeries and pills we are unhealthier than ever. We may be living longer but what is the actual quality of life? As people wake up to the knowledge that modern medicine isn’t all it’s cracked up to be they go hunting and often find herbalism.
I’m here to tell you don’t be afraid to jump into this lovely world of plants as medicine!
Yes you should be cautious, there are plants out there that can do harm, but with a few basic rules you can easily learn to navigate the plant world.
Proper Identification is key.
There are many plants out their that have look-a-likes. Some of the look-a-likes can be dangerous in comparison to the plant you are looking for. For this reason you need to be very sure you have the right plant. This doesn’t have to be complicated.
You need a good book for identification.
There are also many websites that have great photos for identifying plants and you will find some photos in this membership. I try to present these plants at many stages of life so you are able to identify in each season.
You need to know what season you are in when looking so you are looking for the plant at the right time.
When you are first learning to ID plants it may be best to do it late in the season when they are in full bloom so you can observe and compare the whole plant.
The easiest way to learn how to ID plants is to grow your own. Watching them grow from a small seedling or seed to full bloom is a wonderful way to get to know plants.
Another way is taking an herb walk with a trained herbalist.
Safety in sourcing your herbs
Where you get your herbs is important to the safety of your herbs. You may easily ID herbs on the side of the road but it is never a good idea to harvest herbs from the side of the road. You want to be sure where ever you are harvesting your herbs from is free of road dirt, dust, pesticides, fertilizers and other toxins that run off or blow off the road or are sprayed on open fields.
You also want to be sure you are purchasing dried herbs, herb formulas, plants or seeds from a trusted source. While they have tried to put controls on the herbal supplements on shelves they are not monitored in the way other medications are so you may not really be purchasing the herb you think. And you certainly can’t be sure of the quality of the herbs put in the capsules and set on big box store shelves.
I personally love working with personally owned businesses, often family owned, where you can get to know the owner. You can ask questions and build trust and a relationship with the people you source your herbs from. This includes dried herbs, herb formulas and plants or seeds.
If you are hoping to learn to ID plants from what you grow, you want to make sure you are buying the right seed or seedling. You can do this through trust of who you are buying from.
How you use your herbs.
How you use your herbs is very important to safety. The first step in proper use is finding good references. Whether it is through this membership, trusted herbal teachers, or a pile of good books to reference. There are some wonderful books listed in the tools section.
Consider these things.
You will want to take into consideration the season you harvested the herb. Did you harvest it at the right time?
Have you chosen the right preparation for your herb of choice?
How much of the herb or herb preparation should you be using?
How often should you be using the herb?
Have you picked the right herb for what you are dealing with?
Does the herb have any side effects you should worry about?
Are their contraindications (reasons you shouldn’t use the herb) such as pregnancy, heart or kidney issues, etc.?
Don’t let these questions overwhelm you, let them guide you.
Most herbs are generally safe. If you can get the identification down you are off to a good start. If you start with one herb at a time these questions will be easily answered.
You will find guidance in the plant profiles on this membership. And with good resources in books, memberships and teachers you will easily navigate the generally safe herbs from the herbs that require more research.
As beginners, start with common herbs. Learn the terminology and trust yourself you’ve got this!
This is just a jumping point to learn how to safely use herbs.
Herbs don’t have to be scary you just have to trust that you’ve got this. It’s not complicated and you have the time to add a few herbs to your daily life in a safe and effective manner.