Getting To Know A Herb?

How do you learn a plant? Advice given me when I began my herbal studies was focus on one at a time, introduce yourself and let it teach you what it's gifts are. Time sitting with a plant is as important as the crucial book learning. And the learning never ends. What is your protocol in your herbal studies?


  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I started TGN's Herbal Energetics class, and the instructor has students starting on the same method you use. I can see that it is going to take me some time to get through this class as I want to do my homework properly and, as you know, there is a lot to getting to know herbs well.

  • gennywu
    gennywu Posts: 96 ✭✭✭

    I started out by wanting to know everything all at once. I found myself overwhelmed in a very short period of time and also spent way to much money on herbs that I didn't know how to use. Now I understand the wisdom of this approach - getting to know one herb at a time.

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    I've not been able to keep it down to one at a time, but the concept of narrowing your focus is certainly beneficial. I've been concentrating on learning the plants and herbs that grow around me. There are usually 2 or 3 that grab my interest each season. The first step is to identify the plant. So I research that, and once I know what it is, it's time to figure out what it's used for. I've found that it's important to utilize multiple sources. It seems that few sources contain all of the potential uses.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    It can be overwhelming, so a little at a time. Do some reading, take some notes and always remember to ask questions. Forums like this are invaluable.

  • Follow the herbs that speak and call to you. It will keep popping into your mind and show up in other places. I think it is an energy thing...when our energies match a particular plant energy this happens and should be investigated. It does not always mean you need to personnally ingest the herb, it may be that it's information is needed for someone else. If you feel overwhelmed take five deep, slow breaths blowing out through your mouth. This will help calm and center and focus you.

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @seeker.nancy Your comment is interesting and thought provoking. It is a similar philosophy to that used by people who use gemstones for their energy.

    [email protected] Posts: 49 ✭✭✭

    @gennywu that’s me now I need to slow down and decide what I want to learn first and go from there.

  • merlin44
    merlin44 Posts: 426 ✭✭✭✭

    @seeker.nancy I find it is most definitely energy (vibrational). According to Native American teachings, that is one of the many ways the green ones speak to us, if only we listen.

  • @shllnzl I do work with gemstones as well 😀

    @merlin44 yes that is an area I have studied some as it speaks to me.

    There is unity in the natural world and more to learn than we could in a thousand lifetimes.

  • anita.toler73
    anita.toler73 Posts: 24 ✭✭✭

    I like learning what medicinal properties an herb has. It is impossible for me to remember what herb does what because many do more than one thing. I use a reference book like The Herbal Pharmacy. as far as "connecting" with the plant itself on a spiritual level, I do a "breath exchange" because they give off oxygen and we give off carbon dioxide, each needing the other. So I breathe on the plant and imagine some of my essence going in the plant, and then I smell the plant and visualize its essence going into me. So without sounding corny that is what I do to connect to the deva spirit of the plant.

    [email protected] Posts: 49 ✭✭✭

    @merlin44 Drawing the herb and coloring it and writing out all the energetics and other information on the plant. Also cooking with herbs and using it helps you retain a lot of information.

  • merlin44
    merlin44 Posts: 426 ✭✭✭✭

    @anita.toler73 Not corny sounding at all.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @merlin44 like @seeker.nancy I am energetically pulled to different herbs, trees, plants, flowers.

    What typically happens is I hear the name of an herb (I may or may not have heard or known about it before) then I will hear it again then it shows up physically and then someone tells me they use it/have it/love it and then suddenly it pops up in all sorts of ways...a poem , a mystical story, a T-shirt at Walmart...a book is always nice because I can buy it and devour. Sometimes it calls to me in dreams. Then I buy it or ask for it and receive it pretty quickly. Afterward I find a good home in the garden and sing or pray with it as I plant it. I always let it grow a full season with touch and care but no harvest. Gaining the trust seems to give me long term results of having a successful plant with babies to give away in the future. When I do harvest I eat raw first then in tea and dried and in cooking before I make an medicine to see how I react to the plant. Of course if it’s not edible I just stick with singing and touching only.

    Obviously this takes time and I don’t have this deep of a relationship with every plant on my property but I hope in time, I will.

  • cre8tiv369
    cre8tiv369 Posts: 67 ✭✭✭

    Recipes... (and I don’t mean some amateur hogwash BS that some spiritual loon threw together, I mean “real” time tested recipes). Those recipes can help you learn volumes about a particular herb. Almost all herbs have well documented properties, effects, affects, etc. But getting to know the herb also means getting to know it’s companions, synergies, pros and cons, shelf life, potencies, etc. The Chinese have documented the crap out of most of them, and if you can find books based on that, you are on a good path to understanding and knowing the herb.

    It it kills me when some new fad herb based on Chinese medicine hits the market in the US. No one understands it and doesn’t bother to research its companions and why it is used with those companions as they affect bioavailability and potency and many times are critical to safety.

    With all that in mind, sometimes you can’t just limit the scope to one single herb/plant at a time, Each herb has different levels of complexity. So I usually start with old time tested recipes and let them help guide me into getting to know the herb and potential companions. I especially like old Chinese medicine recipes at they are backed by thousands of years of research, study, and practice.

    When I give cooking advice for learning a new culinary herb, I tell people to follow a good recipe exactly and then to try adding it to simple things, like a broth, a baked potato, etc. The same goes for medical herbs, but only after you understand the herb and how to use it in a safe way (and those recipes are the first clue about how to do that and getting to know it).

    You don’t have to limit yourself to one herb at a time. Bite off as much as you can chew, but spit it out if you are choking on too much at one time. Good luck!

  • merlin44
    merlin44 Posts: 426 ✭✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy Awesome, that's the magic of the green ones.

  • Amy
    Amy Posts: 35 ✭✭✭

    I am just starting the Herbal Energetics course as I am a member of the Honors Lab and the way the program is presented is one herb at a time. I would suggest this course as it is easy to understand this method. One thing I learned with other courses is to actually make sure you have the herbs infront of you so you can taste and actually make preparations with it along the way in completing the course.

  • LIliAlmanla
    LIliAlmanla Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    I think a good place to start is --- What grows locally around you? Go to your back yard, sidewalks, local parks. See what grows abundantly right where you live. The best medicine for you is the one that grows around you - it shares your environment.

    The next suggestion would be - what are your needs and family/ friends needs, right now ? You can be guided to work with and get to know what YOU need and would be beneficial for you.

    I like to work with a plant and get to know it well, the smell, the touch, the taste, the feel. What does it tell you ? I like to make different preparations ( tinctures, capsules, teas etc.) and see how it works for me.

    I document everything, from medicinal properties to folklore uses. How I prepared it, what I noticed ( basically a materia medica of sorts). It helps to have a reference to go back to, once you have moved on to another herb. Trust me you will need this information at some point.

    Always remember - We will always be students, learning never stops. This is a lifetime of playing and dancing and flowing with the abundance this beautiful earth has to offer.