Field Notes: A Simple Approach to Herbalism

While most herbal remedies are a combination of different plants, the simple approach is something everyone who uses herbs should be familiar with.

The other day when I was at the herb shop I apprentice at, a woman walked in looking for a specific herb to treat her lyme disease. It was something quite rare that we didn’t have in stock.

The herbalists I work with suggested suggested four or five other herbs she could used instead but to each she replied, “I’m already taking that.”

She said a life coach she was working with already had her on a regiment of at least ten different teas and tinctures.

It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut – to me, this sounded no better than someone on a million different pills from a western doctor.

In my mind if you need to take that much of something, than none of it is properly working.

Even if she was experiencing relief from her symptoms, how would she know which herb was helping?

Furthermore if new symptoms were to arise, how would she differentiate them from disease progression, or side effects of treatment?

Most herbalists work with formulas – that is, a combination of different herbs in a treatment, designed to work together harmoniously to treat an ailment.

While I personally am sipping a formula as I write this, I also believe it is important to understand the herbs as simples before using them in a formula.

A simple is an herbal treatment that uses only one plant – they are the best way to understand and learn about the effect the treatment will have on your body.

Personally whenever I want to learn about a new herb I will use it on it’s own for a few days, and see what happens.

I can go from there, and incorporate other herbs I already understand well, and come up with a formula from there.

The beauty of herbal medicines is that they each have a variety of uses, and that a set of symptoms can theoretically be treated with a single herb.

While consuming a variety of herbs can work to fortify your health, it is important to understand each plant first – on it’s own terms.

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