In a society full of overflowing medicine cabinets, instantly accessible pharmaceuticals and a disconnect from the natural world around us, it’s easy to forget we have a vast world of remedies at our fingertips.
The world of herbalism is one of humanity’s oldest and greatest tools — helping treat aches and ailments, pains and puncture wounds, illnesses and irritations. Plants are one of our most powerful allies, and learning the basics of herbal medicine can give you easy and affordable (or free) tools for treating and maintaining vitality. All while learning a fun new hobby.
It’s in our blood. We’re meant to work with the plants. The more time you spend with them, the more they seem to talk to you, and they seem to tell you what, how and when your body needs them.
You can easily incorporate herbal medicine into your daily life by hitting up your local herb store, health food store, online retailers, or even growing your own in your backyard!
Here are the most common ways of ingesting medicinal herbs:
Tea Party and Infusions
That’s right, you may already have an arsenal of medicine hiding in your tea cabinet. Teas are a gentle, yet effective remedy that can help soothe sore throats, ease tummy aches, and bring extra nutrients into your day.
Pre-made packaged teas and homemade herbal blends made with fresh or dry ingredients are both easy ways to get plant medicine into your system. The difference between teas and infusions, is that infusions are steeped longer, anywhere from thirty minutes to overnight.
To make your own blend, here are some handy herbs you can find in stores or in your garden:
- Chamomile can be found growing wild in many places, and supports whole body relaxation and calming, while decreasing inflammation and increasing circulation.
- Mint: Another common herb that can be found in stores or easily grown. We’re all familiar with its ability to stop stomach aches in their tracks. It also comes with incredible antibacterial and antiviral properties.
- Echinacea: This colorful flower helps fight illnesses and infections like the common cold as well as the flu. Works harmoniously with Elderberries and Goldenseal.
- Rose and Rosehips: You may already have these growing in your yard! The petals from the radiant rose are powerful in fighting anxiety and depression, while combating nerves. Their hips are extremely high in antioxidants, vitamins, and flavonoids (plant nutrients).
Tinctures are a concentrated solution of herbs and goodies that are made by putting ingredients in an alcohol or glycerin tincture for a few weeks, and then straining herbs. While there are more complicated recipes out there, they can be made simply at home, with just a few ingredients and a bit of patience. Some great ones to keep on hand are:
- Motherwort: Also known as “the mother’s mother.” This maternal herb helps calm the heart, anxiety, and depression, regulates menstruation, and invigorates the blood.
- Stomach Aches: A combination of peppermint, ginger, and fennel- which can all be found in your yard or in your local grocery store will knock out tummy issues in one dropper full!
- Oregano: Hello! Talk about superfoods. High in Omega 3’s, iron, and antioxidants, Oregano has antibacterial/antiviral properties, and can help fight infections.
- Nettle: This spikey plant is packed full of vitamins A, C, D, and K, as well as being high in minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and sulfur. It strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, and helps fight seasonal allergies. They can be found wild in many places, and are delicious when eaten fresh. Handle with care- they will poke you!
- Dandelion: Every part of this plant — from the flowers, leaves, to roots — are all full of vital nutrients. While the flowers and leaves are great eaten fresh or made into a tea, the roots are great for making tinctures. High in vitamins and minerals, dandelion boosts digestion and improves liver function.
Where to Find Them
While herbal medicine may seem intimidating to a novice, it’s the most natural thing out there! You can start by gathering and planting herbs in your own garden, a local herb shop, health food stores, or even dried herbs from Public Goods such as oregano and cinnamon.
Tiny apartment living got you down? No need to fret, you can fit a small herb garden or various pots and containers filled with vivacious varieties of herbs in the smallest of spaces.
While herbal medicine can be a gentle way to heal and bring in more vitality to your life, any plant may have contraindications, so be sure to do more research.
Herbal medicine is an incredible way to connect with the plant world, as well as your own body. Have fun with it, experiment, see what works for you, and don’t forget to dig your hands in the dirt!
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