I love that we are surrounded by medicines. Marvellous medicines are to be had from the lowliest of weeds.
But, we need to take sensible precautions before self-medicating.
Want to discover herbs for safe home use? Find more on my events page.
ID – do you TRULY know what it is or does it just look ‘a bit like it’?
- This can be a tough one. I got it wrong last year. I was convinced I had correctly ID’d a plant I was keen to find. Turns out it was VERY similar but not the same when you see them side by side. I had picked rather a lot which was both wasted and taken from wildlife. Not a happy story.
- Stick to well known plants like dandelion and daisy – there’s loads of great medicine to be had with the common plants.
- Get familiar with the leaves, flowers, growing season and habitats of plants you want to use medicinally. Then you will be less likely to get it wrong.
- Watch out for other plants nestling amongst the one you want. Sometimes there are dodgy fellas in with the good guys!
- I have seen posts on social media asking whether a plant was X, one answer was given in the affirmative and the OP went off and made gallons of wine with it. It was actually a poisonous plant. Don’t rely on ‘some bloke on the net’ to get it right for you. It may be your life in their hands!
- Get a good book for ID and then check you’re right on a FB group such as ‘Wild Food & Hedgewitchery’ which has some fantastically knowledgeable botanists and wild foodies on hand to help.
Are you on medication, have a chronic condition, pregnant, breastfeeding?
- It might sound obvious but these things are important too
- Plants can interact with medications making them work more or less
- Herbs can be a great aide during pregnancy but I would err on the safe side and consult a professional herbalist rather than doing it yourself. Even the best of intentions aren’t always.
Do you know why you are having symptoms?
- If you have an on-going symptom then there is ordinarily other things going on which need addressing too. A herbalist will look at all of your health and for signs which you don’t know about.
SO, after all that doom and gloom, if you’ve not been totally put off…
What can you safely treat and use?
- Coughs, colds, tummy aches, headaches, flu… all the things which go away of their own accord fairly quickly anyway. You can really help your symptoms with plants, foods and good nutrition.
Herbalists are very strict about foraging for wild plants.
- Don’t pick it if you don’t know what it is (if you need it for an ID, take a small sample which shows all the plants main characteristics – ideally use a camera instead)
- Don’t take more than you need for yourself
- Don’t take more than 1 in 10 plants – the wildlife also needs these plants
- Don’t uproot the plant – it’s not usually that it’s the roots you need
- Avoid roadsides
- Avoid dog walking spots… 😉
With all that in mind, remember that it can be a lot of fun to forage for your health. ENJOY IT.
Check out my events page as I often lead guided herb walks and am happy to run one for you, your local organisation, your club or school. I’ve even be known to do these for children’s parties. The highlight of my year 😀