I saw a flyer advertising an in-depth program in herbal medicine offered by Medowsweet herbs the second Saturday of every month between January and September. Thought some of you permies folks might be interested! Call or visit Medowsweet for more information. 406.728.0543
My partner and some of her friends are way into medicinal herbs with the knowledge and experience for effective treatments. We harvest a lot of Comfrey, Thyme, Oregano, Lavender, and most of the herbs she works with I don't even know... there are jars of salves and dried herbs and tinctures and oils, I get overwhelmed... (I grow most of the food, she grows most of the medicine!)
Anyhow, they seem to work well if used in the right way. Better than conventional medicine in plenty of instances (in my opinion). There is this resin we picked up in South America called something like Cohipiba and that stuff is amazing. (Had a huge gash and this stuff magically closed it up in about 12hrs! Within 72hrs, could hardly believe it was there! Wish we could grow it up here in MT, maybe we can?)
On this side of MT, we have what I think they call Bloodroot. Supposedly nice stuff for skin cancers I hear. There sounds to be many other good medicinal natives around as well, but I am not the one to know them.
Anyway, I believe many herbs are effective if used correctly and with the right ratios of other possible herbs. I am no expert though. There are plenty of good herbalists in the area. Ask around and you will be surprised how many practitioners are here!
Anyone have some better information? What do the herbalists have to say?
As the "lazy" herbalist, I have only wildcrafted, rather than cultivated, herbs here. While a few are native plants (like Arrowleaf Balsamroot or Uva Ursi), most of them are weeds - some of which are considered noxious weeds, so picking a lot of them is really sustainable. I have 30 herbs in my yard alone (they are not seeded, they are already there and well-established), and I have found that the herbs your home needs (or others who know you need) actually grow the closest to your door. You can certainly read about the herbs to get a good idea about them, but do not be surprised if they end up "stretching" their abilities to do more than what you read about. In fact, because of this ability of plants (that chemical meds do not have), you can solve nearly all of your problems with plants that come to you. Now of course, you do want to harvest in a place where you know there is no pesticides/herbicides. I like drying for tea and tincturing in 80 proof vodka or brandy for most things, and sometimes I make vinegars, oils or honeys too (or a combo of these things - elixir using brandy and raw honey is one of my favorites). My two favorites that I get a lot of is Dandelion and Goldenrod. But I also harvest Wild Lettuce, Plantain, St. John's Wort, Mullein, Storksbill, Chickweed, Mallow (Cheeseweed), Horsetail, Wild Mint, Shepherd's Purse, Self-Heal, Red Clover, the new growth twigs of Siberian Elm (a good one to use instead of Slippery Elm), and many more. The root of Bindweed can be used in the way that Ashwagandha can. Some I pick for food at the time I eat it, like the leaves of Salsify in the summer (when the Dandelion leaves are a tad bitter), a small amount of Black Medick, Henbit and similar types. I should likely also include picking rose leaves and petals (yum!) for drying as well as elixirs and even lilac flowers for elixir as well (yes, a great way to enjoy lilac year-round hehe!) Then in the woods, I am more careful but do harvest some Yarrow for tea and tincture, as well as Uva Ursi, Bee Balm and Arrowleaf Balsamroot. I try to avoid using rare herbs as much as possible for sustainability reasons - do not want those herbs to go extinct when most of the time the plentiful herbs will do the job. If I were more "hardy" in winter here, I would also harvest more barks (the inner bark being the best medicine most often). For native herbs here in Western Montana, check out books by Idaho's Darcy Williamson http://www.darcyfromtheforest.com/servlet/StoreFront or this one by Greg Tilford (Paul, feel free to replace this link with your affiliate one OK?) http://www.amazon.com/Edible-Medicinal-Plants-Gregory-Tilford/dp/0878423591/ - Greg also owns and operates http://animalessentials.com in the Bitterroot.