The Green Journey into Herbalism
Sep 09, 2013 02:36AM
When did it happen to you—the plants on the side of the road caught your eye. You may have wondered aloud; What plant is that? Is it medicinal? How can I use it? Today, plant lovers can download an app to aid in proper identification.
Using the botanical name to research a plant is essential in discovering its chemical constituents, actions, growth pattern and medicinal uses. There are many plants used in herbal medicine and proper plant identification is one way to be pulled onto the green path. Take a moment to observe the red clover (Trifolium pratense), chicory (Chichorium intybus), joe pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), mullein (Verbascum thapsus), queen anne’s lace (Daucus carota), yellow dock (Rumex crispus), burdock (Arctium lappa) and sumac (Rhus glabra), all abundantly available in ditches and roadsides from the D.C. metro area to the Blue Ridge Mountains–consider the use of these beautiful herbs.
Another step along the path to herbal medicine is an illness, ailment or diagnosis. Take advantage of the convenience of the internet, conducting your own research to discover traditional uses of herbal remedies in western herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda or other traditions that have been used to treat a condition. Many search engines, databases and websites offer research to support the medicinal properties of plants applied to the diagnosed condition. Research is an acceptable beginning into discovering the medicinal benefits of plants. Experiencing a health concern could motivate you to walk the herbal path to healing.
Despite the conveniences of modern technology, research will not offer the skills, knowledge and support of a holistic herbal practitioner or herbalist. A herbalist can educate, guide and document one’s progress. Herbalists are not allowed to diagnose, nor prescribe but will make recommendations for herbs, supplements, foods and lifestyle choices, which can benefit the healing, well-being and recovery of an individual going through a health challenge. The consultation is education that is specific to your needs—meant to support, nourish and balance the person who ultimately seeking optimal health. Perhaps having your own consultation would set you on the path to herbal education.
My business, Green Comfort, LLC was created in 1994 and continues to umbrella all the herbal enterprises and teaching opportunities my path unveils. As a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild (AHG), I offer health consultations and herbal apothecary series; teach foundations of medicinal herbalism and lead wild food forages. Corporate wellness programs and clinical training for herb students beginning to acquire the 400 hours needed to apply for AHG status are also available. To find a registered professional herbalist in your area, search the AHG list by state, at AmericanHerbalistsGuild.com.
Everyone traveling the path to herbalism takes a very unique trip. When herbalists gather, we see how diverse we are; from young hipsters coming out of herb school, to the back-the-earth generation growing their own food and marketing their homemade herbal products at farmer’s markets, clinical practitioners, acupuncturists, chiropractors, bodyworkers, book authors, ethnobotanists, compounding pharmacists, nurses—you name it. People begin their journey for many different reasons. Some, after taking a class which whet their appetite or remembering their grandparents’ use of plants as a child. They may hear the plants call to them. How and why he or she chooses to study herbal medicine is as individual as each herbalist.
It has been my pleasure to instruct many who have continued their journey into herbal medicine and have become registered herbalists. It has also been my pleasure to offer many students and clients my perspective on medicinal plants with healing benefits specific to their needs. If you have found yourself strolling along the green path identifying plants, harvesting the weeds, making herbal products, learning their many uses and applying this knowledge to health concerns—you might just be an herbalist. And if not, take the road that leads you here, the journey through herb school is an empowering one.
Teresa Boardwine, RH, (AHG), is the founder of Green Comfort School of Herbal Medicine. For more information, call 540-937-4283 or visit GreenComfortHerbSchool.com.