It is time to get serious about learning herbal medicine!

Michelle D
Michelle D Posts: 910 ✭✭✭✭

I have had a desire for some time now to learn herbal medicine. I want have the knowledge to help my family without relying on pharmaceuticals. I have read a lot of information about it here, online, in books, podcasts etc. For some reason I never seem to retain it well enough to make any use of any of it. It has been frustrating but I figured I would get it eventually.

After spending the day yesterday in the Emergency Pediatric Department with my middle son, I realized that I need to get serious and get a handle on it. My son (4yo), experience anaphylaxis. They believe that he was probably having an allergic reaction to antibiotics. They pumped so many strong medications into him to save his life. I'm grateful that he is home with me and recovering but he is still on some serious medications and it makes me very nervous.

Talk about a wake up call. Today I will be starting the Home Medicine 101 course here on TGN. I feel like maybe I should have started there in the first place. I have to stop letting there be excuses and figure out a way to get it to stick in my head.

Any recommendations would be appreciated! I know that there are some great herbalist in the group. I would love to hear some experiences on how you started your learning journey.



  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 4,403 admin

    @Michelle D Good for you, getting started. Sorry your son had to be the push you needed but glad you are on your way forward. You need to practice your skills to be able to retain the knowledge. Start making some medicines!

    While you still may need to go to the emergency room for certain things, you might be able to avoid some of the things that can send you there. For example, the antibiotics that your son has been on. Not sure of the reason they were prescribed but there are so many alternatives that you will learn about.

    Once you have completed all the herbal medicine courses on TGN (don't forget the Wildcrafting and Foraging course), if you are looking for other paid courses, I would suggest Doc Jones' course "When There is No Doctor" available at:

    TGN has a sale on a video course right now "Treating Infections Without Antibiotics" at:

    Don't forget to check your Grow library resources.

    There is the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine that currently offers Michael Moore's complete course materials for free. Judson had a study group in the forum and did a synopsis of each class for us.

    This is a link to a youtube channel with 7Song's Herbal First Aid course videos. All of the other resources that came with the original course can be found at 7Song's website under the Resources tab. I found this to be a really useful course.

    I will leave a link here for you for Wild Rose College. I have studied with them (and continue to do so). You can take some of the courses as stand-alones or sign up for one of the programs. If you sign up for their e-mails, you will get notification of sales that offer good discounts (they usually happen once a year) and info about upcoming courses and webinars. While it is a Canadian school, with the exchange rate on the CA/US $'s right now, this could work out to be a bargain for you.

    Good luck with your journey.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,276 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's good to learn all you can about herbs, and also foods that keep us healthy! Just wanted to point out that few of us remember everything we need to know. I just try to concentrate on what I need now - and how to look it up when I need more!

    Along with the great resources that Torey mentioned, I'll add that John Gallagher has a lot of good free content on and from there you can get into the paid courses on I studied with John some years back, and Rosalee de la Foret is his education director! She's great.

    I always try to verify safety of unfamiliar herbs and treatments, and have found all these to be reliable (well, I have no personal experience with Wild Rose College, but trust Torey).

    Also, Judson Carroll puts a lot of good info right here in the forums!

    It seems like a lot when you first start, but learn one or two herbs at a time, and before you know it you will be your own herbalist!

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 910 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey thank you for all of the links. I will probably refer back to your post as I finish each class so that I don't forget any of them. I did purchase Treating Infections without Antibiotics. I hope to get a lot from that. I don't really want to need antibiotics in this house ever again. I really like your suggestion of starting to make medicine. I learn best by doing. I think I was letting lack of confidence hold me back from trying. I have practiced with poultice. That worked out pretty well for spider bites and poison ivy.

    @Linda Bittle I have read and listened to a lot of stuff from Learning Herbs and Judson. I still really struggle with it. I think I am missing the basic foundations for it all to build on. It just becomes a jumbled mess in my head that I can't keep straight. I ended up unsubscribing from the Learning Herbs newsletter out of frustration a few months ago. I'm hoping that the Home Medicine class will fill in those blanks for me. I will go back to Learning Herbs and try again. Thanks for reminding me!

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 803 ✭✭✭✭

    I'm so glad your son is recovering. I agree, start where you're at and don't worry about how much you don't know. There will always be more you can learn. I've been on this path for so many years and I learn new stuff all the time. And I constantly refer back to books and notes I've taken. Start making a few basics. Fire cider is good to make and keep on hand. Since your son is your inspiration, start your research with what will help him. It was my son that propelled me down the holistic path. He had many severe health issues when he was very young including a stint in the ICU. At that point my mind was ready to open to holistic options but because he was so young, I wasn't going to try anything on him without first trying on myself. The more things worked, the deeper down the path I kept going. Good luck! :)

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 6,009 admin

    I really don't have much to add to the fantastic suggestions above, except to get a few highly recommended herbal books to reference offline. We have a great list here on the forum:

    When I had a bit of money to spend this past year, I bought some on this list and some on other trusted herbalist & herbalist school's lists. I still want more, but have a fairly good & reliable reference selection at the ready now. Some even have how & what to prepare along with dosages. I'm glad I have them. I bought books on foraging in my general area as well.

    You may also want to start to put together monographs for each plant. Make a template. Put them in plastic sleeves if you wish and in a binder. You may want dividers for plant families or you may want to arrange it alphabetically or otherwise. Use your templates as you start to learn one plant at a time. I'd leave extra space in each template page to add more information later. There is always more to add.

    Above all...teach your kids as you go. Make sure that they can hear your lessons and watch videos. Read some of the information out loud, not just quietly. When you are out with them and you see a plant you are familiar with, have them see, touch, handle & examine the characteristics (smell as well, taste if appropriate). Talk about how it's useful. Make some medicines & foods with them. You will find that they will get right into it and start asking you if such & such is good for anything, or for you to ID something new. Remind them of the foraging rules once in a while. Just chat as you go about your day. This will not only teach them, but teaching others what you've learned either immediately (best) and/or later will help you remember as well! It's one of the best ways to learn. The other way is to use all of your senses & third, to examine that plant until it is exhausted, then move on to another.

    Get the Botany in a Day book (Thomas Elpel). You are fortunate to live in the US, because you can also get the cards to play the learning games. I really want this and so do the kids. The book is a bit advanced fir the younger ones, but I think we found a video on it on YouTube that the kids enjoyed. It helps you understand the plant families much better through fun repetition. BTW, the Wildcraft game is very loved by our kids.

    That's my advice. I'm just a beginner too, and have trouble retaining much, but sometimes I surprise myself. The kids retain better and help out sometimes too. 😉 Sometimes, tidbits just spill out when I chat with others. "Did you know that...?" 😏

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 910 ✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning I have the Wildcraft game. I completely forgot about that! I'm gonna see if the kids will play it with me now. Thanks 😊

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,276 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's important to realize that you don't have to remember it all! That's what books and online sources are for.

    I have decided that the best way for me to organize my monographs for plants is alphabetically in a file box, with folders for each herb as I learn them. I make copies or print out interesting articles and file them away. Then I have pages in a binder for what issues I am interested in using herbs for (pain, infection, dogs, female issues, etc. , and then write in the herbs that are good for that issue. Lots of herbs are good for multiple issues. Then I store my tinctures, salves, teas, etc. in large freezer zip lock bags according to the issue I use it for. Pain potions in one, nervines, skin, pets, etc.

    You will work out the best way for you!

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Moderator Posts: 1,094 admin

    @Michelle D sorry to hear about your son. Happily he is better. It is. Rey useful to have a basic knowledge about herbs, but, once it comes to real emergency, there is a shock and it is difficult to remember. At least this is how shock effects me. Thus I have a list of basic, easily accessible herbs (which I have at home or in the garden) and tinctures, oils for all kinds of emergencies: cold, fever, stomach, injury, burn… I can have a quick look and react accordingly. But yes!!! Do the herbal course!

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 751 admin

    @Michelle D I wish your son a speedy recovery. I personally have a few herb books (The Homegrown herbalist by Dr. Patrick Jones, The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies by Nicole Apelian Ph.D., etc.) I really like to have online as well as paper copies when possible (some come together automatically like the Lost book above). The online ones can be searched via the key board shortcut for key words which can be a real time saver. Also you don't have to remember everything. Knowing how to make salves, tinctures, etc is the important foundation because then you just change the herb you are working with. Also start with a few herbs that have super general uses (eg good for lots of things) (like garlic) and grow from there (pun intended lol)!

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 910 ✭✭✭✭

    @Cornelius I have seen a lot of advertising for The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies. I have been considering getting it. Have you utilized it much? Do you recommend it?

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 910 ✭✭✭✭

    There are so many places to purchase the herbs that I'm not growing yet. How do you recommend deciding which companies have quality products? What are some companies that all of you trust?

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 4,403 admin
    edited July 11

    @Michelle D As I am in Canada, I buy most of my herbs from Harmonic Arts but when they don't have what I am looking for I will check with Gaia Gardens. Both companies are in BC.

    I'm not as familiar with US companies but Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals seem to be at the top of the list.

    The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine has a list of their top herb suppliers.

    Mother Earth Living has 4 recommendations for bulk wholesalers including Mountain Rose.

    The Herbal Academy has a list of suppliers from around the world, not just for herbs but other supplies you might need, including packaging.

    A word of advice when you are starting out. This is from someone who has wasted a lot of product (and money). :) Don't go overboard on your purchases. Start with small amounts to make small batches of oils, salves, teas, etc. These things will lose their effectiveness or go rancid over time. Tinctures are different as they have a very long life span so you can make bigger batches of those.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Moderator Mid North Coast AustraliaPosts: 1,328 admin

    @Michelle D it is definitely a concern & hope your boy makes a quick & full recovery. I decided to get into herbal medicine after I retired & had more time on my hands. There is so much information out there & trying to understand who to take notice of etc. you’re already 1/2 way there because you’ve found TGN. I did the Making Herbal Medicine here at TGN’s academy with Doc Jones as the tutor, right when I joined. He is so knowledgeable & funny, he keeps it simple & very learnable. I have a notebook “my herbal go to” & in my own handwriting, I make notes etc, quick & easy to look up anything I haven’t retained. I have my notebook broken down into method, recipes, herbs & in the back a section on what I made, how I did it & what ingredients went in.

    Besides TGN & Doc Jones, I also have books or follow, Rosalee de la Floret, Nicole Apelian, Kammi McBride. I also jot down info from the forums but in particular @torey , @judsoncarroll4 @LaurieLovesLearning & @jowitt.europe these amazing people love to share their knowledge. Don’t over think it, keep it simple. I try to always remember when herbalists did this many years ago, they did not have the equipment or the information overload, they just kept it simple & I think that is key. All the very best & just dive in, you’ll be so pleased you did.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 861 ✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D Wow that is scary. I have never used any of my herbal knowledge in such an urgent situation.

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    I have a traumatic brain injury and severe memory deficits and I have the same concerns. I didn’t want to invest money in classes that I knew I couldn’t retain but I signed up for a couple of good newsletters and started reading lots of posts here and asking questions and now I’m realizing that I’m retaining a tremendous amount. We all learn best those things we are most interested in and after starting with things my family needs most, I noticed the other day that some of it is starting to be a little more intuitive.

    The advice to not go crazy buying loads of different herbs is excellent, you are going to want to have a stockpile as soon as you start seeing how well they work but it will only waste your time and money. I have loads of herbs I bought or preserved myself that I won’t use because they have been sitting too long. I’m still a beginner but it sure is a good feeling knowing that I can treat most common problems without ever leaving home. I’ve also noticed that my husband and grown son have picked up quite a bit and will come home and ask for a bottle of something to share with someone they’ve met that needed it.

    I’m looking forward to checking out the links our amazing moderators gave you!

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 454 ✭✭✭

    Actually making the medicine as I read about it makes it stick in my head. Then using the remedies also helps it stick in my head.

    Sometimes I will pick a book and read it from cover to cover and make the stuff in it as i am reading it. That seems to make it stick too.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 910 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you all for the great tips! I am making progress. I ordered some books and a small amount of supplies to get started. I put together an apothecary binder for all my notes and printed some templates for keeping my notes organized. I haven't had as much time as I would like to for taking the classed in the Academy but my husband has agreed to take the little ones fishing or something like that on Sunday so I can have some time without noise or distractions to hopefully move forward there.

    I learned this week that the niece of one of my closest friends is studying to be an herbalist. I usually see her at most holiday family gatherings so I look forward to being able to connect with her on that subject.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 751 admin

    @Michelle D I would recommend The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies. It has identification, edible use, medicinal use, contraindications, and some recipes.

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 4,403 admin

    @Michelle D Check out the new post about American Botanical Council's latest free webinars on herbal medicine.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 861 ✭✭✭✭

    @Owl I don't have a traumatic brain injury (though I may have had a stroke a few years ago). I took an excellent in person herbal class and had a hard time remembering but a few of the plants and remedies that we learned. You are right though that the plants that I remembered and learned to know were the ones that I needed for the most part. I still have quite a few things that I made in class that are on my shelves gathering dust. I hate to, but I need to clear them out and make room for the things that I use.

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 278 ✭✭✭

    I have the same problem as you, Michelle D, in that I have trouble retaining all the information that I study. I think one way to learn it better is to pick one herb and use it and make it in various forms until you have really learned it. Then pick another one. Problem is, you may need one that you haven't learned yet. I need to review the herb course on this site.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,279 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D I have learned a lot from the different articles and classes on the TGN Academy, Learning Herbs as @Linda Bittle posts also on the Herb Mentor is Rosalee de la Foret who is also very knowledgeable and to me the Grand Dame is Rosemary Gladstar.

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 4,403 admin

    Learning herbal medicine is becoming more urgent for a lot of us as our medical systems (in many jurisdictions) fail. What do you do if you can't access the ER due to closures over staffing shortages? Or simply can't make it there due to disaster situations? Or if you live in a very remote location?

    Here is a link to a downloadable PDF of the book "Where There is No Doctor - A village health care handbook". The site is encouraging you to buy a hard copy of the book but is making the PDF available at no cost. You have to scroll down about 3/4's of the way to where it says: Download Where There Is No Doctor - PDF. Its a big one. Over 500 pages. But awesome to have a look before purchasing as it is a fairly expensive book.

    I'm thinking it might be a good accompaniment to go with Doc Jones' course.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 910 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey that book looks like it will be good to have. I will have to add it to my list of study resources.

    I was looking through @Scott Sexton YouTube channel yesterday. I didn't realize how much herbal information he has on there. I hope to have time to watch several of his videos also. That will probably wait until I finish the Wildcrafting and Foraging class in the academy though.

  • water2world
    water2world Sherry Jochen Sevierville, TNPosts: 790 ✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D Glad your son is improving! It is great to start your herbal journey. Advice listed above is great! Good luck with your new adventure!

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,032 ✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D sorry to hear about your son. But relieved beyond words that he's doing better. I wish you luck on your herbal journey. I'm hoping to continue with mine here next month.🤞

    There is so much great info and resources in this thread!😁

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