9 Questions on Healing With Herbs

I am a herbalist, and I am passionate about health, and healing. There are so many ways that we can heal ourselves, and maintain a healthy body, mind and soul. One of my favourite healing modalities, is using herbs for myself, and my family.

1) What is an herb?

There seem to be various definitions, as to what an herb actually is. From what I can gather, so to speak: An herb is a plant that is generally fleshy, and seed bearing. It does not have a woody stem. But, I must admit that I have found it difficult to find a definition, as when I think of herbal remedies, they include so much more than this, and many of them include various parts of trees, vines, flowers etc.

2) What is an herbalist?

An Herbalist is someone who has studied the healing properties of herbs, and how to heal people, and animals with them. Herbalists educate people, on how to use herbs to promote health, prevent illness, and to cure ailments. Our primary focus is to treat the whole person, and to advise them on their diet and lifestyle, rather than focusing on only treating their ailments.

3) How can an herbal tea heal me?

An herbal tea, is just as therapeutic as eating an herb. One can either brew fresh, or dried herbs in hot water, and the healing properties are drawn into the water. These teas are generally pleasant tasting. It is preferable to see a qualified herbalist, or do research as to what herbs are good for treating which ailments. Be sure, if drinking ready mixed teas, that they do not have any preservatives, sugar or artificial additives. When drinking herbal teas, one can always add a little honey to make it more palatable. Let the tea brew for at least 10 minutes, and then always strain before drinking.

4) What herbs can be used for healing?

There is such a large variety of herbs, that one can use, but the most common are generally the ones available to each area. We use loads of lavender, chamomile and basil. The success of herbal remedies, depends largely, on how the person reacts to the remedies. We are all different, and, it can sometimes take a little experimenting to find the right remedy. Other popular healing herbs that are also easy to grow are: echinacea, eucalyptus, garlic, rosemary, sage and thyme.

5) What is a poultice?

A poultice is an age old way to heal with herbs, and is also probably the safest method. It is made with a fine paste of herbs, mixed with clay, salt or charcoal to activate it. The paste is then wrapped in a cloth, which is placed on the skin, in the area that needs treatment. They are especially effective for skin disorders or chest complaints.

6) What is a Tincture?

A tincture is a liquid extract made from herbs, which is taken orally. They are usually extracted in alcohol, but cider vinegar can also be used. I prefer to purchase rather than make my own tinctures, as there are some top quality ones made these days. This way one also get to take a more accurate dosage. They are most convenient and easy to use.

7) How safe are herbs?

Not all herbs are safe to digest, or even to use as poultices, so I would warn against using just anything, without doing your research. Not all herbs are healing, and many of them have side effects. So, as with all medication, we need to inform ourselves on each herb, before using it. Some toxic herbs include, bloodroot, bryony, clematis, foxglove, poison ivy and laburnum.

8) Dried/ fresh?

Depends mainly on availability. I generally prefer to use fresh. But, if I don’t have a particular herb, or cannot find fresh ones, then I use dried herbs, or teas. If they are freshly dried, and kept in the correct conditions, than they will still have loads of therapeutic properties.

9) Where can one obtain herbs from?

We have an herb garden in our back yard, and we try to keep as many herbs planted as possible. It does not require a lot of space, as each herb is contained in a smallish container. I generally beg, or buy as many assorted herbs as I can lay my hands on. Even if you live in an apartment, with no garden, you can grow your own herbs. They look beautiful, and they will always be freshly available on hand to use for remedies, or to cook with.


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