CULTIVATE, Herbal Education

How To Research Herbs

January 8, 2013
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If you have wanted to incorporate herbs into your lifestyle, but constantly feel overwhelmed by the mixed information or the amount of herbs that are used for one particular issue, stress no more.

Today I’m going to tell you how I research any of the herbs I use so that you can learn to do the same!

4 Steps To Researching Herbs

  1. I look up whatever is ailing me in a book, and I find out what herbs or supplements are known to help with that condition. I write them down on a piece of paper. Then I move on to another book and write those herbs down. I go through 3-4 books, and sometimes I’ll even search Google to see what suggestions others have.
  2. Next I look at all the suggested herbs on my list, and I note which herbs were mentioned over and over in all the different resources I looked it. That must mean that all these herbalists agree that these particular herbs are the go-to herbs for whatever I’m researching. So now I make a new list with all of the most commonly recommended herbs.
  3. At this point I’ll look each of the herbs on my new list up individually. I’m looking to see how they work in the body, any herbs that they may need to be combined with to work better, any warnings or cautions that may accompany them, how to prepare them, how much to take, how long to take them, etc.
  4. Finally, I narrow my choices down to the best herbs for my situation. I then browse through my typical online herb shops to find out prices and shipping times and then place my order. If I don’t have time to order them online, I’ll make a special trip to a nearby health food store and pick what I need up there.

That’s it. It’s so simple. I can do it, and you can do it too!

Do you have a particular way you research herbs? Share it with me in the comments below!

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  • Reply ashlee January 8, 2013 at 3:42 PM

    what are your favorite books to use when researching herbs?

    • Reply Meagan January 8, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      My favorites are Practical Herbalism, The How To Herb Book, The Green Pharmacy, and The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. I have a ton more, but those are the first one’s I pull.

  • Reply Jill's Home Remedies January 8, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    I do the same thing ~ grab my favorite herb books!

    • Reply Meagan January 9, 2013 at 8:49 AM

      I also like to use Google, but you have to be careful about the mixed info there. I’m also a part of a membership site for herbalists, and it’s a great place to find information!

      • Reply Jen January 19, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        May I ask where (the membership)?

        • Reply Meagan January 19, 2013 at 10:14 PM

          Sure… I’m a member of – it’s great. I love it and highly recommend it. There’s soooo much info there. I’m just picking at it a little bit at a time.

  • Reply ashleyK August 25, 2014 at 5:50 AM

    Can you recommend any free sites that discuss herbs/herbal remedies? (Other than yours- which I love! Looking forward to posts as you do your course!)

  • Reply Carol January 13, 2015 at 1:22 AM

    Thanks for sharing Meagan! I think it’s important to have herbals that have somewhat different insights, at times. As we know, there are as many ideas .. as there are herbalists, it seems (lol).

    Also.. if we are discussing a simple situation, like a cold, flu or toothache, for example, I agree that this
    process works well. I would say, though, that there is a science and an art to creating great formulas.

    Formulae in books that have been shared with the readers, are ‘generic’ and although we need to generalize when we share ~ years of experience plus studying “how to formulate” is a valuable skill. Having said that, and not to complicate further; I’ve studied with many herbalists over 20 years and 2 in particular ~ very different approaches.. and then there’s what I’ve learned.. so 3 methods run through my mind.. Each client/friend/situation differs and creates a need for another level of understanding. Add in energetics and a little Ayurved or TCM and it’s a ‘party’ of ideas!

    It seems important to allow the excitement of our green allies to surround us and inspire us ~ and to guide us towards the teachers who await. I don’t hesitate to refer clients to other herbalists with more experience in a particular area or who are specialized.

    All this to say.. I agree with your post and thank you for sharing your ideas with us! I encourage everyone to embrace our beloved plant friends, to respect the immense power of the plants and to exercise caution when formulating for anything more than basic tonic + nourishing remedies unless working with experienced practitioners. Green blessings.. I hope my comments are received with the respect I am sharing… with a good heart and intent.

    • Reply Meagan January 13, 2015 at 9:56 AM

      Thanks for your comment Carol, and I TOTALLY respect your opinion. It has me reviewing this post and seeing how much I’ve grown as an herbalist since I wrote this 2 years ago. It really needs an update! At this point, I can see how my research process is different from this post since I’ve learned to take human constitutions, tissue states, and energetics into consideration. It definitely complicates matters some, and I’ll get around to updating it in the near future!!

  • Reply Gillian September 3, 2015 at 11:09 PM

    Thank you so much for this!

    I’ve wanted to start using herbs for the longest time but always get overwhelmed by all the infinformation give up.

    Amazing how one teeny post (that’s really just stating the practical steps right?) can make such an impact.

    Thanks again. Can’t wait to get started digging in!!!

    • Reply Meagan September 3, 2015 at 11:48 PM

      You’re welcome Gillian! I’m so glad you found it helpful.

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