Like many of us, I am nearly overwhelmed by the flood of information that comes at me when I try to begin researching the uses for a plant, or the beast herbal remedies for a given ailment. Most of us have some sort of filter that we use to shake out less reliable source, or certain trusted sources of information. So for those of us who don't have a trained herbalist in our friend circle, or even if we do, we recognize the need to respect that person's time and energy, what do we do? What books do we buy-and which ones should we scoop up immediately should they be languishing in a thrift store?
My question has a few parts:
Who is a trusted source on medicinal/medical knowledge, in print or online?
Who is definitely NOT a reliable source, in print or online?
What are some of your Tells for distinguishing the difference?
I look for lots of caveats and an absence of certainty. I almost immediately discount anyone who recommends ingesting essential oils without heavy cautions. And I stay away from anyone who appears to be promoting any given product. I do look for sources and citations, but it's difficult to know who is reliable. When the official story is so much different from the truth, but it's not always possible to tell how, how does one gather the best knowledge?
I might almost suggest becoming used to being overwhelmed. Because I’ve found no substitute for a lot of study in many different sources.
After a while you spot patterns. You notice a few common narratives about an herb which are all versions of some learned herbalist’s entry in an herbal or encyclopedia or website somewhere. You learn to skimread and ignore sources that are just regurgitating that common wisdom by rote. You also learn to spot and discount the commercial narratives pretty fast, even when these are the overwhelming majority. You look for UNIQUE narratives, people who have more detail or unusual perspectives on the herb. They may be total cranks, so you read them critically. Where several of these unique narratives agree or complement each other, you begin to feel like you are finally reading useful and trustworthy information.
I think just eating more herbs in the mint/thyme family + dill/carrot family + onioin/garlic family is the best way to get our herbs, without having to think about it so much. In a week we eat 7 X 3 meals, so if we were to make an effort to eat at least 1 unique herb per meal, for a total of 21, we would be at least 80% of the way there, and we wouldn't have to worry about which specific one and when or the dosage, etc, etc.
Alot of time we look for these "magical" cure all oils/herbs/deits/mud bath/etc.
But the reality is that we have alot of things to help our health:
* Water - I think aiming for 1gallon per day is good
* Sleep - 8hrs per night (avoid blue lights, multi-function bedroom-computer room, eating late)
* Stress Management - e.g pray, talk, shrink, yoga, breathing, forgiving but not forgetting, chop some wood, walks
* Nutrient Dense Food - no magic formula/diet, don't eat too much calories, eat more vegetables + herbs + fruits.
* Physical Activity - We need range of motion(yoga) and strength (kettleball) activities VS sitting at work, sitting in the sofa and then laying in bed is ???
I am my own and my family & friends 'herbalist/ wise woman'. I'm not licensed, but, I also don't ask for any form or remuneration, and everyone keeps coming back. That said, I have a few sources - for both information and products - I've trusted, for years, with excellent results. There is a huge herbal community out there, that is rapidly growing, and being a bit wary is simply wise. I also am leery of anyone claiming that ingestion of essential oils is a viable option. A small handful can be, in teeny tiny doses (i.e. I use peppermint, in candy, sometimes), but only a very small few.
My go-to online product resource is Mountain Rose Herbs (mountainroseherbs.com). Their products are consistently the highest quality I've found, shipping is timely, and their customer service is stellar. If they don't have what I'm looking for, my local(until February, when we move out of IL) favorite is Fruitful Yield. Between the two, I've not had to go anywhere else, in at least 5yrs.
Informational sources I trust online are Learning Herbs (though it is geared toward kids), their information is solid, and they're direct affiliates with the adult version - Herb Mentor(.com). Traditional Medicinals and it's founder, Rosemary Gladstar have been amazingly informative, and Rosalee De la Foret, Kiva Rose, 7Song, K.P.Kahlsa, and many others in their network have all been instrumental and inspirational, for me. Rosalee De La Foret and John Gallager (of Herb Mentor/Learning Herbs) have put together what has become a game changer, for me, in their 'Taste of Herbs' explanation & experiential learning/teaching method.
The only thing...more expensive than education is ignorance.~Ben Franklin
Pacific Botanicals in Southern Oregon has the best quality herbs if you are buying 1# or more at a time. They also sell fresh herb for those making fresh herb tinctures.
I find even the companies that are trying to put out good product are now having issues with quality. This is due to many more people using herbs and the herbal manufacturing companies inability to source enough quantity of high quality herbs. I use to own an herbal company named Wise Woman Herbals. When we could not get good quality in a particular herb, we simply stopped offering the herb until we could get it in the quality we insisted on. Sadly, customers do not like that, and therefore most companies will simply purchase the best of what they can find, even if that means it is poor quality. I am continually shocked at what companies are selling. If you want really great herbs, grow and preserve them yourself. I have information on my website that covers harvesting herbs in the garden, wildcrafting and how to make tinctures and other herbal products, and it is free to read. My website is listed below.
May You Walk in Beauty,
Sharol Tilgner ND
Sharol's books available at website
I will very honestly say that I REALLY appreciate Dr. Tilgner's book, Herbal ABC's: The Foundation of Herbal Medicine. I love how well researched it is, and how it goes into the side-effects and counter-indications of herbs. Instead of being organized by herb, it's organized by body systems and ailments. It is a very valuable resource. I also really appreciate how I--as a rather notice reader--am educated through the book. It's really easy to say, "Oh! I have a cough! I read thyme oil will help, I'll just go make some thyme tea and breath it in." I LOVE how in her book, she goes into how the herbs work and when they might not be useful and when they are. It helped me to slow down and not leap in and make things worse. It is a truly valuable resource, in so many ways!