I’ve posted a lot on herbs lately. I remember when I first ran across herbal medicine, about three years ago, and I was in awe of people who created their own remedies and seemed to know what herbs did what, where to buy them, how to use them. How did they know?!
But since then I’ve researched and studied and tried things and well…now I’m one of those who know. It’s really not that hard! It’s daunting at first, but hey, we all start somewhere.
Today I want to introduce you to some of the herbal basics.
Herbs for Beginners
If you don’t know where to begin, think about some of these safe herbs first:
- Ginger (buy)
- Elderberry (buy)
- Catnip (buy)
- Nettle (buy)
- Oatstraw (buy)
Mostly foods! There are certainly contra-indications for all (ginger is a blood-thinner so people who don’t clot or are having surgery shouldn’t use it; oatstraw can cause issues for people who are gluten-intolerant, etc.) they are generally safe. All of these are okay for pregnant and nursing women, as well as babies/young children under most circumstances.
Other commonly used (and generally safe) herbs include:
- Mullein (buy)
- Lemon balm (buy)
- Turmeric (buy)
- Red raspberry leaf (buy)
- Spearmint (buy)
- Peppermint (buy)
If I had to choose my top 3, the ones I use most often, I would choose ginger, mullein, and nettles. Maybe choose just 1 – 2 that you would like to explore.
What To Do with Herbs
It really works to choose just 1 or 2 herbs and go with it. Ginger, for example, can help stomach troubles, colds, sore throats, coughs, colic, general pain and inflammation, and more. Herbs each have many, many uses so just 1 or 2 can help most of the common ailments!
But…how do you use them?
There are a whole bunch of ways, really. Tea is the most common. The general rule of thumb is 1 – 1.5 tsp. of an herb in 1 c. water. Teas can be made much stronger if desired, but it’s usually not necessary (and yet I usually do it anyway…).
Here are some posts to help:
- How to Harvest Fresh Herbs
- How to Freeze Herbs
- How to Forage for Lavender
- How to Wild Craft
- How to Dry Herbs
- How to Make an Herbal/Oil Infusion
- How to Make a Glycerin Tincture
- The Herbal Medicine Chest: Where Do I Begin?
- Easy Ways to Use and Enjoy Herbs in Your Home
- Top 5 Benefits of an Herb Garden (plus two recipes)
- Herbal Medicine Safety Considerations
Here are some recipes to try:
- Herbal Multivitamin Tincture
- Herbal Multivitamin (Male Formula)
- Herbal Cramp Tincture
- Immune-Stimulating Tincture
- Postpartum Sitz Bath
- Jewelweed (great for poison ivy)
I buy my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.
How to Store Herbs
The best way is in glass jars. I keep most of mine in their plastic bags in my pantry. All my tinctures are prepared and stored in glass. Ideally it would be stored in darker glass (brown or blue), although I usually use my clear mason jars.
Anywhere that keeps them cool and dry is okay.
Fresh herbs should be stored with stems in water or wrapped in a wet cloth and used quickly, especially if you want to use them medicinally. Ideally tinctures would be prepared within hours of harvest.