Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use
RECOGNIZED AS THE OLDEST SYSTEM OF HEALING on the planet, herbal medicine traces its roots back to the earliest civilizations. Today, herbalism continues to flourish as a people’s healing art. Even with the amazing technological advances of conventional (allopathic) medicine, herbalism — the art and science of healing with plants — is still widely popular. And its popularity
is gaining, not waning. According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of the world’s population used some form of traditional medicine in 2008, and its rate of affordability, availability, and accessibility is surging. So it’s no wonder you’re drawn to these healing plants and curious to learn more about them. But perhaps you’re nervous about trying herbal home remedies: What are these herbs? Are they safe? Do they work? Can you grow them at home? Can you make your own remedies? When and how do you use them? How easy is it to get started? These are some of questions we’ll address in this book.
What Is a Medicinal Herb?
If you use herbs in cooking, then you’ve already taken the fi rst step in using herbal medicine. All of our common culinary herbs and spices are among our most important and esteemed herbal medicines. And if you garden, tucking herbs here and there in your vegetable and fl ower beds for their added scent and beauty, then you also have been “practicing” herbal medicine. Garden herbs such as lavender, thyme, sage, basil, rosemary, mint, yarrow, and peppermint are some of our most trusted herbal medicines and have long histories of use as teas, salves, poultices, and tinctures for healing purposes. Open your refrigerator and you may fi nd more common herbal remedies, including horseradish (one of the cabbage (a singularly effective poultice for shingles and hives).
But wait, you might say, aren’t some of these plants vegetables and not herbs? Botanically speaking, an herb is an herbaceous plant with a nonwoody stem. However, when herbalists speak of medicinal herbs, they are basically including any plant that can be used in healing. Remember, herbalism is an art that evolved over centuries around people and people’s needs. It only makes sense that people would use what they had available, in the kitchen or in the backyard. Many of the most common plants are still our best and most popular remedies for common ailments. So even without knowing it, you may already be a practitioner of herbal home
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