Why I Study Medicinal Herbs (& You Should, Too!)

I cannot remember what led me to discover this seemingly secret world of natural remedies. What I do remember is walking to the library on my lunch break to pick up a reserved copy of “Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs-A Beginners Guide.” I read it front to back, and I was fascinated! That was my introduction to herbal studies, and the doorway to a passion I never knew existed. I’ve continued my study of medicinal herbs for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is that I strive to be the best, healthiest version of me that I can be. Herbs have helped me to do that. I want to share medicinal herbs with my family and friends so they can do the same.

Medicinal herbs have been utilized for human (and pet) health and wellness for centuries. Specific plant properties have the power to heal bodily functions, strengthen vital systems within the body, and promote well-being for the mind and spirit. It is my belief that a greater appreciation for and understanding of these plants and their helpful traits can lead to a healthier life. And that is something we can all be grateful to find.

In many cases, medicinal herbs can be an effective alternative to modern medicine. I am not a doctor, nor do I rely solely on medicine from nature. There are conditions that must be dealt with in the realm of doctor buildings and hospitals.Yet, I strive to make as few visits to these places as possible by creating healthy, proactive daily practices. Herbal medicine is a key factor in that process.

There’s been discussion lately about the growing concern of antibiotic resistance. From my non-medical understanding, this means that infectious bacteria are cultivating an immunity to the antibiotics being prescribed by doctors. Antibiotics are becoming less effective because the bacteria they were made to kill have adapted to withstand these drugs. Not only is the overuse of antibiotics helping to strengthen bad bacteria, but in general, antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria that is needed for a healthy body and they often have negative side effects.

There is some good news though! There are herbs and plants that have strong antibacterial properties—which bacteria has shown an inability to grow resistance. Another plus, is that these herbal medicines don’t create nasty side effects when taken appropriately. A perfect example is Oregano. This common culinary herb has a chemical makeup that some believe to be even more powerful than antibiotics. Take a look here for more information on antibiotic resistance and the powers of Oil of Oregano. It’s pretty amazing!

Elderberries ready for harvest

But maybe you want to focus on not getting sick and having to go to the doctor in the first place. There’s that axiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” for which Benjamin Franklin has been given credit. Herbs can help with that prevention, too. There are many herbs that can be considered immune-boosting. Some common ones that fit this description are Echinacea or Purple Cone Flower and Elder. Adding these in the form of tea or supplement is surely adding an “ounce of prevention” to our daily lives.

Before I knew about medicinal herbs I was unaware there were alternative options to health. I simply thought if I was sick I could go to the doctor and all would be well. Now I see that it is my responsibility to be a conscious consumer in regards to my health as well as the health of all people. I also see that it is my responsibility to take care of myself. I’m finding I can most effectively do this by studying these plants and choosing to add them into my life in various ways.

Maybe you don’t study herbs as intently as I do-herbal medicine isn’t everyone’s passion. You don’t need to be putting together a Materia Medica (read more on that here) to reap the benefits of natural remedies. Maybe you pick a favorite culinary spice to start learning about. You may find that its characteristics are beneficial to a particular bodily function-which could encourage its use more often. However you go about learning more don’t forget that book knowledge is one things, but you must incorporate these wonderful plants into your life on a daily basis to get the most benefit. In part two of this post, I will give you some basic tips on just how you can do that. I hope you will stick around for that!

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