Did I tell you that I went to a Medicinal Herbs 101 class last weekend? Probably not. Well, I did. And it was so cool! I'm signing up for more. We didn't go into each plant so much-- there are just too many of them-- but we did go over basic terminology, the realities of working with herbs, and the how to of making your own medicinal teas, tinctures, balms, etc. We also got a short recommended references list, and a bunch of online resources. I am SO STOAKED! (wow, that word feels old)
If you are interested in classes, try your local community college, or check out Jo Powell's School of Herbalism and website at www.nwherbs.com. If you can't take it from her, she probably knows someone in your area that you can check with or learn from. I'm taking the Medicinal First Aid with Herbs class in a couple of weeks. I'm sure you'll hear about it.
So anyway, today I finally went to visit my local herb shop, and bought a few ounces of herbs to start playing with-- freshly dried so I know they'll be good for medicinal purposes for a few months here. I've started with a Comfrey Oil, which I'll turn into a balm once it's finished "cooking." And I'm about to try my first sips of my own medicinal echinacia and stinging nettle tea. Which I suspect I may have made incorrectly because if you're using the flowers, leaves, and basically the soft parts of the plant, you don't boil the herb with the water (this is called infusion)... but if you're using the bark, seeds, stems, roots, and basically woody/hard parts of the herb, you DO boil them in the water (called decoction)... And the echinacia I got was surprisingly woody-- (the whole plant is medicinal, and I think this herbalist collects the roots)... but I didn't boil it, as the nettle was a leaf, so...
Anyway, I love the idea of being able to take care of the smaller illnesses and injuries that come my way, without waiting for it to get "bad enough" to see an MD, without paying extra money, without taking a prescription medicine, and without worrying about the next apocalypse. Boy, I know I spelled THAT word incorrectly! Thank goodness for spell-check. And honey. Thank goodness for honey, too. Some of these herbs get kinda bitter. It's really nice to be able to add some honey to the tea and know you are actually doing yourself a favor!
Some Online Resources:
www.nwherbs.com --Jo Powell knows her stuff, and her classes just ROCK!
www.botanical.com --Has a decent Materia Medica (where you learn about the herbs).
www.herbs.org --scientific herbal research.
www.swsbm.com -- The Southwest School of Botanical Medicine by Michale Moore.
www.pacificbotanicals.com -- buy herbs, learn stuff.
www.theherbshoppe.net --The Herb Shoppe is a real store, with a great
and well-educated owner. A great resource person as well as a
great place to buy herbs and bases.
www.mountainroseherbs.com --good for herbs, great for essential oils (EO's).
www.herb-pharm.com --great for tinctures and good info available, too.
www.libertynatural.com --again, great for buying your herbs and other stuff.
www.frontierherb.com --this is the brand carried by most health food stores.
Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar.
From Earth to Herbalist: An Earth-Conscious Guide to Medicinal Plants by Gregory Tilford.
Aromatherapy: A complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green.
A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve. (also available online at www.botanical.com).
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal by Tammi Hartung.
Anything by Michael Moore or Jack Green is also something Jo might recommend.