In today’s world of processed food and manufactured drugs, a growing number of idealistic individuals have eschewed the mass-produced mainstream options to embrace the benefits of the natural, organic, and traditional. In particular, more and more people are recognizing that herbal remedies, compared to many conventional medicines, are often safer, easier to use, and simply better for one’s overall well-being.
The only downside, it seems, is the cost: herbal extracts can be as expensive as conventional over-the-counter medicine, and even culinary herbs with medicinal properties tend to be marked up when looking for organic options. Walking through the aisles of your local health food store, it’s easy to see herbalism as a dauntingly expensive venture.
But it doesn’t need to be.
The Cost of Herbalism
Herbalism is so much more than taking a given herb for a given ailment, and it needn’t cost anything more than time, energy, and dedication.
Many of the same herbs found on the shelves of Whole Foods can be found growing in the wild; all you need to do is learn how recognize, care for, and use them. For that is the true nature of herbalism–working in harmony with the bounty nature provides us, protecting and nurturing this resource which is shared by all of us, and in return receiving nourishment, health, and the peace that comes only from spending time in the natural world that gave life to us all.
Choose Your Path
Walk into the forest, take a few steps off the foot-worn path.
Close your eyes.
Do you hear the leaves rustling to greet the wind?
Smell the tang of fallen leaves returning to the soil?
Taste the coming rain in the air?
Look around, and see the regal oaks, the stately pines. Their leaves and bark fight infections and protect against aging. Notice the burdock clinging to your shirt; it aids the digestive system and reduces inflammation.
And these are only a sampling of the dozens of herbs around you, hiding–in some cases–in plain sight.
Your task, your responsibility, is to learn to locate and identify them. To harvest only what you need, with care and gratefulness for what they offer–and to recognize when too much has been harvested, and they should be left to flourish. To make extracts and tinctures of these gifts from nature, often combining them to produce deeper, broader benefits as the plants’ natural synergies come forth. To use this knowledge always to protect, appreciate, and revere. You are a steward of this earth, as it in turn cares for you, in a two-way relationship of trust, protection, and gratitude.
If all you seek from herbalism is treatment for your latest ailment, then the herbal supplements found at Whole Foods may suffice. But if what you seek is a lifestyle of health and well-being, of peace and understanding–and if you wish to save some money–all you need do is step out your back door. Take that first step on a lasting journey to learn the heart of true herbalism. It may be the best choice you ever make.
If you are ready to take the next step, we welcome you to join us in our ever-growing online herbal community. Our community is made up of beginner and seasoned herbalists alike, coming from all walks of life and from all parts the world. If you are brand new to herbal medicine, then join us at the beginner level in the Online Introductory Herbal Course. It is here where you will learn why herbs work and basic herbal remedies. Students with some prior experience can get started right away as well. Hop in at the advanced level; the Online Intermediate Herbal Course is also enrolling!