By Rickie Wilson, Guest Blogger
In a recent webinar for the Herb Society of America, author and clinical herbalist Maria Noel Groves shared her insight on the safe use of herbs as supplements.
Webinars are monthly online presentations on herbal topics, available only to members. They may be viewed in real time or accessed at a later date in the members-only section of the website. Herb of the Year – Peppers – is the topic for June.
Using herbs as medicinal supplements appropriately requires research and self-knowledge. For example, she notes cinnamon helps diarrhea in some individuals but causes constipation in others. When you obtain herbal information from a class, book or article, says Maria, this is usually general information. You must consider any underlying health conditions that you may have, body type, medications you are currently taking and the like.
Before jumping in, Maria recommends consulting at least three sources of information. Her favorite source is an experienced herbalist who uses herbs daily and sees clients. Other sources may be found on the Recommended Reading and the Herbal Links pages of www.WintergreenBotanicals.com.
Once you’ve chosen the herbs, says Maria, “The best way to connect with the healing powers of a plant is to harvest it yourself.”
This wise advice must be followed with attention to details. It can be easy to misidentify plants. Even if you know the source of the plant you should always go through the steps to identify it. Maria suggests the following guidelines:
- Have a Field Guide: Several are better. Double check what people tell you.
- Watch the plant for a year or longer: Plants are difficult to identify in their leafy stage. Waiting for it to produce fruit or flower makes proper identification easier.
- Know the deadly toxic plants in your area: Toxic look-a-likes exist in the plant world. Be sure to consult a medicinal field guide and know the differences.
- Pick from clean sources: Don’t harvest near a highway or by a chemical plant or an area heavy with pesticides.
- Be aware of adulterants in store bought herbs: Be wary of powdered herbs and those from China. For example, Chinese skullcap is often tainted with germander. Chose your purchases carefully.
Always be careful about combining herbs and drugs safely. Be sure to consult your doctor, pharmacist and herbalist/naturopath before taking any herbal supplement.
For more information check out Maria’s website, http://www.WintergreenBotanicals.com. Her newest book is Body Into Balance, An Herbal Guide To Holistic Healing.
Medicinal Disclaimer – This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment. Please consult a health care provider before pursuing any herbal treatments.
Author Intro – A retired director of advertising for The Herb Quarterly, author Rickie Wilson loves writing about herbs and has done so for 16 years. She’s a certified paralegal and English tutor. She is currently working on a childrens’ book that uses humor to teach kindness. Her favorite herb is basil because it is so versatile. Rickie Iives in Pacheco, California, on 3/4 of an acre a little off the beaten path.