Things one ought to consider when choosing herb remedy

I have been trying to start working, but as usually the hardest thing is to start and I don’t think I’ll be doing it tonight as my brain isn’t co-operating on that level.

Which gives me good reason to finish an article on a very hot topic to me:

Things one ought to consider when choosing herb remedy

 There is disturbing trend with new users of herbal medicine, which I think is very wrong and can do more damage. The trend is that they like choosing the herb to clear them from whatnot problem like they choose the chemical medicine. This is so false I don’t even know where to start.

Lets start by thinking on what you can find in chemical medicine and what in a herb. Chemical medicine consists usually of 1 or more chemical compounds that do the actual work and fillers that will either help to ease the side effects or just give some shape to the pill as the actual medicine might not be big amount itself to make up a pill.

When you choose  a herb, you need to understand that it isn’t controlled science – it’s entire chemical lab in one plant and most of them are no fillers, but active compounds themselves. This means that for example if you decide to use dandelion, then the seeds, the blossom, the leaves, the root – all of them are filled with things that will react with your body one way or the other.

This “one way or the other” is the problem that makes me winch each time I’m presented with solution they want to try out. It wouldn’t be so bad if they would come to me in style “I will useSt. John’swort for depression” and then they show bag they have purchased from the seller. It then can consist entire plant hacked up and dried.

Alarm bells!


  1. There are plants that can be used entirely. With them you have no problem, however:
  2. Different parts of plants have different effects. If you buy your plant in whole, you must know in advance that this plant is usable entirely with no problems!
  3. Many herbs that have edible blossoms and leaves can have lethal berries and roots. If you purchase the entire plant you should be aware that you won’t find those parts in the bag.
  4. You need to know when the plant was harvested. Blossoms for example are best to harvest when they are very small, merely open. Leaves can have one effect when they are young and small, if they have been out for a week and a whole different effect if they are collected in their absolute prime as there are plants that change their chemical compounds in the leaves throughout the entire growing time. That’s why, for example, you can eat dandelion leaves without problem before blossoms are created, but they turn bitter afterwards. If you buy plant that you know can be harvested only before blossoms and you see nearly open buds, then you should think over taking this. Also, the best herbalists write down the weather. If collected on dry weather, the leaves hold much more essential oils in while before rain they open up the pores in expectation of rain thus less ability to keep the essential oils in and the effect won’t be maximum.
  5. Because the plant often has more than one thing it is used for, then you should know as much as possible about the plant before you get it. Common knotweed is by the way good for your bladder as it helps to clear them. However, did you know that if you take knotweed for more than two weeks, you can risk serious liver damage? Same thing if you make too strong tea from it.
  6. You need to be tuned with your own body or the body of the individual you decide to offer the herb to. Are you sure that they don’t have condition that this plant will make worse? How old is the sick person? If they are kids, then you better be very good knowing what you can use and what not. There are very few plants that you can help to aid toddlers. If they are elderly, you must know the risks too as with their weaker body type you can’t use everything, especially things that would have side effect on heart or can cause breathing problems.
  7. If the plant is collected in rain – it will spoil fast and the general rule is you don’t collect anything on a rainy day that you wish to dry. It’s ok if you will use it immediately, but in longer perspective, no.
  8. The amounts that you need to take the herb. The general rule is 1 teaspoon per cup. By cup, take notice, the typical measure is 200 ml. Danger arises if you make tea with small cup and without thinking twice, you put the advised amount of herbal mixture in the cup. Make the tea too strong and you risk with your health, too light and the effect won’t be as strong, because you might not get enough components in your body for it to have affect.
    The temperature of the water is generally 80 degrees of Celsius, so right on the edge of starting to boil heavily, as Chinese friend told me – the bubbles on the bottom of the kettle look like sea pearls.

How to avoid the mistakes?

  1. Research! Be sure you know the risks through and through. Exclude internet as liable information source! Go for library instead and search different authors and get your information from several sources. That you know what your plant helps you with, but you can be sure that if you give it to someone, you are prepared for surprises and if emergency rises, you know to instruct the doctors, too. It wouldn’t hurt to check if there is any information if the plant reacts with other elements or plants. For example Nettle is pretty universal, when it comes preparing it, but as it is high in Iron, it would be better not to infuse it in honey as those two don’t mix well.
  2. Never use plant that was recommended by a friend without researching it first. What works for your friend, doesn’t always work you and can be actually dangerous. I’m grateful if someone can recommend me something to my problem, but I do not ever take in anything I haven’t checked before. You can’t blame anyone else if it kills you.
  3. Buy your plants so you get different parts of the plants separately if possible. It may seem like waste, but you can always mix the plant back together if you need, but separating them from each other is a whole new experience. If you can buy your plant as intact herb, then it will ease your work – you might need to package it yourself, but you can do it so those parts are separated.
  4. Buy your plants separately. Same thing – you can always make mixes according to your needs, but there is no need to use highly prized tea mix for only one component. If you don’t need the other components, don’t consume them. The only mixes I keep at home are those that I know I use more and are mixed in small amounts.
  5. Buy herbs as complete as possible. Blossoms look like blossoms, leaves as hole as possible. Routs are often grinded and barks, but that’s natural. The more intact the plant is in the bag, the longer it will last.
  6. Don’t use the drug if it smells like hay (unless it is some sort of grass) and if you hold it in your hand, it turns into dust. When they dry herbs, it never means you drain it absolutely. It usually keeps some humidity and you should be able to feel it with your fingers. Though crumbly, the leafs and blossoms should have some velocity left. It is normal that dried herb has about 2 years of shelf life. So don’t get what you don’t need or if you plan to harvest them yourself, be regular about it.
    You can keep this rules in mind also if purchasing regular black or green tea and your taste buds will thank you.
  7. Follow instructions and use your head. Tint the recipe amounts accordingly and you will be fine. The usual time to take medicine is around 2 weeks. It is usual that after that one ought to pause and let the body rest or stop altogether. If it says in the book that you need to use it sparingly – do that! If it says – only before dinner then that’s how you will take it.
  8. Classical mistake: “doctor told me to take it 3 times per day”. This means the entire 24 hour cycle, not the time you are awake. So if they say you need to take 3 times, it means you need to take it in every 8 hours, so the best times would be for example7 inthe morning, 1 near lunch and9 inthe evening. If you are working regularly, this would be good time plan.
  9. If you see problematic side effects, stop taking it immediately. If the signs are problematic – contact doctor immediately. Keep the package from the seller. Weird recommendation? No, but will help you get help sooner. If you need to re-pack, the best would be paper bags. Always write the common name AND the Latin name on the bag! Latin names are universal, common names can be known only to you and your granny.
  10. Besides children and animals, if you make tinctures – keep them away from any alcoholic. I once nearly got heart attack when I discovered that while I was away, father had used my pot marigold tincture to help his sour throat. He isn’t alcoholic, but he used the tincture as he uses any other vodka and that made me realize that this should be on every tincture bottle – you do not use it like vodka! Had he mixed up the bottles, he would have ended up with White Clover tincture and with it’s function to relief cramps and make your blood flow easier, deducing blood clotting, I would have ended with murder charge. So keep your stash in place where all sorts of wonder minds can’t get to them without asking you first.
  11. If all else fails – ask the one selling you the herb or anyone wise enough. Ask from professional. They will probably tell you to go through tests before using any herb and they are right to say this. Still – put up with it and ask. Better their advice than your own stupidity.

I could go on few more pages, but in reality it’s quite simple: Reduce risks with research, get your plants separated by plants and plant parts and know exactly how to use it.


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Filed under foraging, House Chemistry, korilus, Remedies, Toidukultuur, Year and a Day

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