About The Herbs

Herbs contain 100’s of constituents (chemicals) that help the plant survive and thrive. These same chemicals also help us humans to prosper and work within us synergistically to help us overcome challenges in a multitude of ways. Herbal medicine is still the most common healing modality used world-wide and is often referred to as “the people’s medicine”.   This term is so apt given that ancestral knowledge has been passed down to us through the eons  we that we can each make our own simple backyard medicines. 

“Herb” is used in reference to all the plants that an herbalist uses including: wild plants, weeds, trees, shrubs, fungi and lichen and their leaves, flowers, roots, barks, and resins.

Why use herbs?

  • Herbs have been used to heal people and animals for thousands of years. 
  • Herbs are gentle and effective without the negative side effects of pharmaceuticals.
  • Herbs can address the root cause of your health concern, as well as the symptoms.
  • Herbs are versatile, whether consumed as a nutritional food or medicine and can be tuned to the individual.
  • Herbs can be grown, harvested and used to make your own medicine!
Essentially, it comes down to your personal choice but here are some reasons people use herbs for healing:
  • Nothing else has worked. You’ve tried a number of things and though you may have seen some improvement, you still don’t feel good and maybe have other worries now. Maybe the doctors are not able to put a label on your condition. As a herbalist, we treat the person, not the condition. This is what sets herbalists apart as healers. We do not wish to diagnose or cure, nor is it in the scope of our practice, but we do strive to identify deficiencies, excesses, and imbalances, in general, that may be at the root cause of your issue.
  • You wish to reduce your reliance on pharmaceutical medications. Prescription medicines are sometimes necessary to sustain life or to improve a specific function. But you are concerned because they known to produce negative, unwanted side effects. Herbs can play a supportive role by either reducing side effects or the amount of medicine needed. It is also possible for herbs to eliminate the need for prescriptions at all. This depends much on your situation so please discuss options with your herbalist.
  • You want your medicine to be gentle and effective without negative side-effects. Whole plant extracts are complex but customizable through formulation. Most plants contain 100's of constituents (chemicals that work within the human body in a specific way) and can combined with other herbs to provide gentle, tonic plant medicines. An experienced herbalist can create a balanced formulation for you to make sure that it's perfectly suited for you.
  • It’s what you grew up with and are comfortable with. Herbs have been used to heal your people for thousands years and this ancestral knowledge is simply what you and your family have always used. Lucky you!
  • You are an independent person and you would like to be able to make your own remedies. Opportunities herbal education abound. The internet is full of them. If you are making your own medicines, the most important first step is to learn to positively identify plants in your area. This cannot be learned from a computer. Look for wild crafting/foraging experts or groups in your area. Bee Wild Herbs will be offering wild plant walks and workshops in the Merrickville Ontario area (hyperlink).
  • You do not have a health plan and would like to make your own simple remedies to save on health care. See above “you are independent and would like to be able to make your own medicine”. There are some very simple remedies that you may already have in your kitchen! For instance, garlic is one of the most powerful, safe herb you can use and you can use if every day!
  • You want a remedy that is customized for you. You can do this with herbs! But we would need to know everything that makes you and your situation unique. A health consultation is a prerequisite for creating customized remedies. Knowing what your complaint is does not make a customized remedy. A thorough understanding of your life, other, possibly related symptoms, your constitution, etc. are needed to address your specific case. I believe this is how herbs are the most amazing!
Herbal medicine is not a catch-all or quick fix type of health practice. Herbs are plants (and fungi) and plants can be powerful. Some herbs are not the tastiest and today our palates are typically used to more bland tastes. Here are some other things to consider:
  • Quality of medicine. Do you know and trust the person/company that made the medicine? Do you know where the plant material was harvested from and are you confident that they have verified the ingredients? Please do your research and find trusted resources. I make 75% of my herbal extracts using plant material that I have collected by hand. Any herb I cannot collect locally, I purchase from well respected, sustainable and organic companies that are transparent about the origin of their herbs.
  • Side effects. The medicinal properties of some plants can be powerful, while other plants are highly valued for their tonic, food-like effects. If you experience a side effect, whether, from your pharmaceutical or herbal medicines, it may be a sign that the medicine is not a good fit for you; however it could be an intended effect and be an important step in your healing process – albeit uncomfortable. If the reaction is from a pharmaceutical prescription –talk to your doctor or pharmacist immediately. If you prefer to use herbs/plant medicine: Work with an herbalist that favours gentle, tonic medicines encourages open communication and is willing to adjust your custom remedies as needed.
  • Herb/Drug Interactions. Are there possible interactions with other medicines? Herbs, like foods, are made up of chemicals and can interact with different pharmaceuticals. If using self-prescribed or doctor-prescribed medicines your pharmacist is a good resource to decipher interactions. Alternatively, work with an herbalist that respects this and clearly understands your prescriptions and possible interactions with herbs or foods. Be sure to share all the information about your medicines/supplements with your herbalist/doctor/pharmacist.
  • Do herbs really work? Yes…but be aware that herbs may not always work as quickly as pharmaceuticals. Instead, they work deeply and safely in concert with your own innate healing capacity. Did you know that we humans are self-healing organisms? Our innate healing capacity may have been disrupted or distinguished by something like a bad flu; trauma; extended times of stress; or unhealthy lifestyle choices. Herbs should be selected to help reduce your discomfort now (reduce discomfort such as pain, cramps, inflammation) while working more slowly to restore the self-healing capacity of your body/mind (the root cause).
  • Your response to the herbal preparation depends on. The quality of the preparation, correct usage (dosage, delivery) and formulation; choosing the correct herbs to suite you, the client and their condition. condition. The successes of herbs consist largely of anecdotal evidence –it is the people’s medicine which is a collection of success stories over millennia –and this is not a bad thing. Today, we put so much trust in science that we sometimes forget that actual, real life experience, if properly documented, can be much more useful and reliable. Ask your herbalist and her clients about their success stories.
  • Where’s the proof? If anecdotal evidence, collected across all of human history is not enough, there is still science. Herbs and their known constituents (chemicals) are quite well understood, scientifically, and science is uncovering new and wondrous details every day. It is a thrilling time to be alive and interested in human health and plants.
  • Indeed, thousands upon thousands of scientific studies of herbs have been completed. You just need to know where to look and be willing to dig a little. However, it is important to bear in mind that many of these studies merely focus on one isolated part of a plant (like say, salicylic acid in Willow bark), which is not terribly useful when practicing the use of whole plants, and these studies often take place in a petri dish or on an animal. Still, this database of evidence can be used as one piece of the puzzle for an herbalist, and for you, if you are willing. Choose your sources of information carefully and be critical of information coming from sources you do not know.
  • information coming from sources you do not know.