When I started my first herbal blog I was so excited to share what I was learning with the world! It was about five years ago when I was in my first year of herbal training. My goal was to write 1 post a day about an herb – and for a while I did. I found thousands of people who liked my material and I am so grateful for finding like-minded people who love herbs. But seeing so much misinformation has left me jaded and hopeless about what happens when herbal medicine (healthcare in general really) and social media is combined.
There are hundreds of blogs, YouTube channels, and Instagram accounts that share genuine and accurate information but there are just as many people who will do a few quick google searches, read a couple books, and think that that is enough “research” to present themselves as a professional or as someone who knows enough about herbal medicine to teach others about herbs. Herbal medicine and natural remedies are a trendy thing right now, and companies always follow trends. Be wary of people selling and marketing herbal products when they have no right to sell them or talk about herbal actions.
This probably sounds very harsh and condescending of me, and perhaps it is. But imagine going to your doctor about your illness only to see him do a google search about the medicine he is giving you, and then quickly doing another google search to check the contraindications and basing your prescription based off of that. I would be pretty scared in that situation. But it is a pretty close picture to what I see people doing with herbal medicine. I admit I can be a know it all at times and I would love if everyone agreed with me (who wouldn’t love that) but this is not about me not liking people who don’t agree with what I think about herbalism. I am fine with people disagreeing about what herb is best in what situation – our differences as herbalists and healers help us to grow and learn from each other so that we can provide the best care for our clients. This is about the fact that many people and companies are starting to share information or make products when they simply aren’t ready to do so.
What makes someone ready to tell others about herbs? What makes someone a professional herbalist? There are many paths to becoming a professional whether it is a training program or a cultural passing down of knowledge. Some things are certain – you need high-quality, professional sources. This may be books written by professional clinical herbalists, or even your grandmother who has practiced folk medicine and helped heal her community for years. You need accountability – people who know about herbs who are watching over what you are doing and correcting your mistakes – especially when you are first starting out. Nowadays – anyone can go on the internet and make a post about how garlic is good for high blood pressure and a lot of people agree without questioning especially if they find a few other websites that say garlic is good for high blood pressure. That will be enough evidence for them to order some garlic capsules and start taking them – only to find out it doesn’t work.
I hate the commercialism of herbalism. I am a person who loves material things and I love art and aesthetically pleasing things. I LOVE herbal products and I love to see other people making them – it means people are realizing their power to make their own medicine. But seeing people who don’t know enough about how herbs work trying to make a quick buck by either sharing information about herbs or selling herbal products is very disheartening. Natural remedies are very trendy right now, and there are many people trying to take advantage of that fact which can be both good and bad.
What I love about herbal medicine
More than I love herbal medicine, I love the plants themselves. They are teachers, guides, friends, healers, and confidants of my biggest sorrows and greatest joys. I love that plants have such depth and are multidimensional, you could truly dedicate years of your life to one or two plants and still have more to learn. I love the process of getting to know the plants. I love when I am initiated into relationships with them that allows me to call upon their spirits for healing. The plants are my most reliable friends.
I love the way that by working with herbs and having relationships with them I am able to grow and heal emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
As a medical professional I love the potential of herbal medicine. When used correctly herbs can have an amazing affect on people. Personally, I have herbs that can help bring me from a 9 on a 1-10 discomfort scale to a 1 or 2, and if that is not amazing and magic medicine I don’t know what is. I love the fact that I am able to help others with these amazing plant friends of mine.
Connect with herbs on an energetic level Whether we are professional herbalists seeing people in a clinic to help with their chronic illnesses, energy healers working with plant spirits, or everyday people looking for some natural remedies to their everyday problems- we need a more heart centered and connected approach to herbal medicine. Herbal medicine is not mechanical. Herbal medicine cannot be approached from the same angle as western medicine or viewed in the same lens.
I do not have a book about clinical herbalism, but if you are interested in learning about a more energetic and holistic approach to learning about herbs, Caring for the Energy Body with Crystals and Herbs may be right for you.
Click here to learn more about this book
The number one important thing is to know yourself, as cheesy as it sounds.
As you are reading up on herbal remedies for colds and winter maladies this time of year, remember that not all herbs work the same way for all people. Chamomile helps you sleep? Not really, maybe about 40% of people. It doesn’t mean it’s ineffective, it means you have to match the right herb to the right person!
My hope for you this holiday season is that you remember to tune into yourself first before you look for any external medicines – and then use caution and discernment as you search for sources of herbal information. Check the link below for a list of my favorite herbal resources – I am always expanding the list so you are going to want to bookmark it!
Resources for herbalists and how to take herbs safely
None of these statements or products have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This products and/or statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This is for educational purposes only and it is not meant to replace the care or advice of a medical professional in any way.