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I’ve been interested in herbs and essential oils for years, but sadly I haven’t done much with that desire, until now. I am making it my mission to become more familiar with herbs and essential oils so that I can use them for myself and my family safely, and effectively. There is just one thing…where do I even start? There’s so much information and misinformation out there about herbs and essential oils that discovering what’s real and what’s not can be challenging. To help save you time and effort on your how herb and essential oil journey I’m sharing with you some resources and tips to help you separate the chaff from the grain and get started with herbs and essential oils.
Step 1: Research & Find Reliable Sources
The best and I think pretty much only way to get started with herbs and essential oils is to start with research. You need to understand not only how the ailments that you are seeking to cure work, but also the various properties and uses that herbs, plants, and trees have. You also need to know where these plants are found, how to properly harvest then, what to do with those harvested plants to preserve and use them, and the drawbacks or dangers of using a certain plant. Remember, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. Poisonous plants exist, and some plants are poisonous if not prepared correctly or if certain parts are used. Before you start making herbal preparations you need that knowledge to use plants and essential oils safely. That knowledge comes from lots, and lots of research.
What’s the key to good research?
Your sources. Your research is only as good as your sources so you need to be able to tell a good source from a bad one.
How do you know if you should be listening to this random internet person’s advice or not? Well there are some things that you should take a look at. First, do they have any certifications or educational background that is relevant? Do they have formal schooling? Are they a certified herbalist? Or did they get their title when they signed up for their company? If it’s the latter, take their advice with a grain of salt. Remember, their main objective is to sell, not heal.
Education and certifications aren’t everything. A good source will also cite their sources. Those sources will be scientific journals and publications. They will be studies that have been done involving the herbs and oils in question. No, random-person-on-the-internet’s blog is not a good source (yes, that includes mine). If they are making claims about an herb, or essential oil they should be providing some sort of back up for that statement. No citations? That should be a big red flag.
Remember, just because you saw it on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s true! Always verify your information with multiple other sources to ensure it’s accurate. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just like there’s no miracle food that makes you lose weight, no herb or essential oil will instantly cure you either. Herbs are a wonderful tool for wellness, but they should not replace all other medical care.
Step 2: Expand Your Learning with Organizations and Educational Institutions
You don’t have to research alone! There are many online educational institutions and organizations that specialize in herbs and essential oils. Organizations are very good sources of information and training. The Herbal Academy offers online classes and instruction for various levels of herbal enthusiasts from those just starting out to more advanced practitioners. If you are more into cosmetics there’s Formula Botanica. Formula Botanica is an online & accredited organic cosmetic science school. These online schools are perfect if you need a more traditional learning environment or a more guided learning environment.
Step 3: Learn from Experienced Herbalists & Foragers
Learn from those who have gone before you. I follow several herbalists, who I love and admire. They work hard at their craft and truly make it their life. It’s so inspiring to see their fantastic products and learn from their troves of experience and knowledge. I highly recommend checking out their blogs, you just might learn a thing or two! (PS got any more I should know about? Drop your fave links in the comments!)
- Fern & Fungi
- Fat of the Land
- Gather Victoria
- The 3 Foragers
- Homespun Seasonal Living
- Attainable Sustainable
- The Herbal Academy
Step 4: Put it All Together – Create You Own Materia Medica
What is a Materia Medica? It’s a resource book that outlines all of the important imformation you have collected about herbs. This includes what they look like, where they are found, what their uses are and more. You can customize it to meet the needs of your own practice to truely make it your own. Need some inspiration (and some free goodies to add to your Materia Medica? Check out the Materia Medica at the Herbal Academy.