When you study plant medicine you realize that you, and only you, are responsible for the health of your body, mind, and spirit. This truth cannot be denied upon discovering the bountiful nourishment our earth freely offers to the grateful soul. Just take a look at the persistent dandelion. Every part of this plant can be used as medicine, and they can be found just about anywhere. Open your eyes to the worth of that which we’ve been trained for generations to deem only a “weed,” and you will see that some of our most powerful tools for sustainable health have been planted in your own front yard.
Luckily you don’t have to be an avid herb farmer or medicine maker to benefit from the use of plant medicine (although doing these things are highly recommended to get the most health benefits). There are many ways to incorporate the use of herbs into your daily life, as well as many ways to get your hands on herbal ingredients. The best thing to do is start small when it comes to adding a new practice to your life. Don’t do too much. You will become overwhelmed, and may wish to give up.
There are three main ways to “take” herbs as a medicine. Tea, tincture, and capsules all offer various benefits to the human body when taken regularly, or as appointed by an herbalist or naturopathic doctor. Some herbs work better as a tea than others, while some are more effective when taken as a tincture. Each herb differs on how it can best be placed within the body. Here I’ll run through the basics of each option. A little self-study and experimentation, and you will surely find out what would work best for you, too.
Teas are tasty and effective preparations for numerous medicinal herbs. One of my favorite things about drinking tea to support health is that making time for tea can be a very meditative, relaxing process. Teas are infused (or decocted—when making root teas) with the medicinal properties of the plant. On a daily basis, teas can be consumed hot or cold to support proper bodily functions and immune health. Tea can also be helpful in shortening the stay of coughs, colds, and congestion. A favorite tea recipe of mine is one that can be made from plants I can grow right here at home. I first discovered it on the Herbal Academy’s blog where they’ve given it the name Weed’s Tea. It’s a simple, gentle recipe to support overall health and well-being. Perfect for daily consumption!
Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that are held in a solvent—generally an alcohol. They are typically made from dried or fresh plant parts. Because they are so strong you only take a minute amount at a time. Typically prepared in dropper bottles, you can mix a dropper full of your tincture into warm water, juice, or another drink of choice. You can also take them directly if you can withstand their potency. Tinctures are typically taken several times throughout the day, and are great for short durations. Tinctures are easy to whip up right in your kitchen for a highly effective homemade remedy.
Capsules, or herbal pills, are another way to add herbs into your daily life. This is much like a supplement at a store. However, when you craft your own herbal capsules, you will know exactly what is going into them. You can purchase vegetable capsules through various herbal stores (I get mine here) along with powdered forms of herbs. You can also make them without the capsules by simply mixing dried herbs with water and honey (or maple syrup).
It’s also possible to get a great deal of medicinal herbs in the food you eat every day. It is a bit more difficult to coordinate and ensure that you will be getting certain quantities of specific herbs this way. But it is still a very good habit to get into—preparing foods rich in herbal fare. There are several herbal recipes books available today that can help you add medicinal herbs into your daily meal plan.
My tried and true one-stop-shop for herbal ingredients, teas, and tools has been Mountain Rose Herbs for the past two years. I trust them to have the highest quality of herbs, and they surpass my expectations in being an eco-friendly supplier. Although I desire to grow and maintain my own supply of herbs for crafting and medicine making, I’m grateful for such a company in empowering me to deepen my understanding of medicinal herbs.
The most important thing about taking strides to be more responsible for your own health is that you continue to try. Maybe start with one tea that you will drink every day. It could be one tea that contains one herb. That one herb may be great for sustaining every day health. Starting and upholding that one little habit might be all it takes to lead you into new, healthful changes. It’s not about giving up things in life you enjoy. It’s about getting to know the plants that can transform your health through one or all of the ways I just mentioned. It’s about training yourself to enjoy these plants, even the most bitter of them! And of course, being thankful for the gifts they have to share.