I remember after I enrolled in my first herbal medicine course that my burning question was, “How many herbs are there?!” I was only used to knowing herbs in the culinary sense, such as thyme and basil, etc…but the medicinal plant world was so much bigger I wanted to know what the perimeters were for its scope.
The response to my question is that there is no numerical answer to how many herbs there are. So what makes a plant an herb? What is an herb?
Basically every plant that has some use, be it culinary or medicinal is considered an herb. They can be aromatic, but that is not always the case. These terms automatically encompass almost every plant out there: the weeds and trees in your yard, your culinary herbs, your flower bed…..many, many of these plants have beneficial properties that have been used for literally thousands and thousands of years to nourish and heal the body. There are, of course, poisonous plants to steer away from–but even many of these in VERY weak dilutions (usually homeopathic) can be utilized (and should only be utilized) by highly trained and extensively skilled practitioners for certain conditions.
The scope of herbs is so wide that you can study for a lifetime and constantly learn new things. Many cultures and herbalists have their own unique approach and relationship with the plants. There are many ways to use them: in your food (such as with culinary herbs and wild foods), in powdered form, in capsules, tea, decoction, tincture, homeopathy, flower essences, essential oils, lotions, salves, vinegar and oil infusions….etc.
I’d love to share some of the knowledge that has been passed on to me by my teachers–the plants are people’s medicine, and it is a sacred art form that big pharma has successfully pushed out of our culture to eliminate competition and thereby created reliance of the people…and thus endless revenue for themselves. I have found nothing more empowering in my life than rediscovering my relationship with the plants, and consequently my world, our world.
Ask me your questions, and I will do my best to answer them! Tell me what facets sound intriguing to you and I can post some mini-lessons to provide a foundation of understanding. It may take me a while to respond as I have a 9 month old but I promise I will be as diligent as time allows and make an effort to more frequently hop on this great space Aubrey has created for us!