Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Shaming of Home Herbalists

 I am a home herbalist. 
That means that my goal is having the knowledge to offer first aid on things like skin issues, burns, bug bites, etc., and to soothe symptoms of self-limiting illnesses.

Home herbalists can help with sleep, anxiety, and lots of (mild) mood issues.  We can ease the pain of over-used muscles, cramping, indigestion, and nausea.
In short, there are hundreds of issues that we can address.  We know that if they don't improve or worsen, we visit a doctor or a registered clinical herbalist.

We use years of learning, generational knowledge, and intuition. 
Generally speaking, we do not come at this to cure ourselves from some life-threatening illness.  It's just knowledge - like why you add an egg or baking soda to a recipe.  

I've spent the last 30 years working with home herbalists, the last 20 publishing a magazine for home herbalists, and the last 10 writing books for home herbalists.  This life's work was intended to help those who didn't have family showing them plants or teaching them to use chamomile or ginger for their tummies.

Over the last decade, we're being repeatedly told that what we know isn't good enough.  In order to sell classes, new terms are being created to describe that which we all do without even thinking about it.  

Two things happened that really brought this to a head for me yesterday.
I opened an email selling a class that told me that books that (paraphrasing here because I deleted it) list which herbs are good for which issues are not good books.
Imagine having the hubris to say that.  Shame on anyone who wants to trash the books written by virtually everyone who came before them, and taught almost everyone how to incorporate herbs into their lives.

Then I posted on a couple Essential Herbal social media accounts, asking what was the first herb used, and why.  Not one person mentioned their constitution or the taste of the herb (unless it was for food).  They said a relative taught them or that the same place that sent me the email suggested "use this herb for that" - which I found pretty ironic.

I'm sorry to see herbalism being contorted for money.  I hate to see it being complicated so that people feel like they have to spend a fortune to learn it, especially at a time when there is so much information available freely at everyone's fingertips.  I'll keep plugging along, teaching anyone who will listen that they can learn it themselves, one herb at a time. 

I stand by the books I've written, and the 20 years of magazines we've published.  

EDIT:  After speaking to a friend who has been teaching the tastes of plants for over 25 years - to home herbalists - I must add that constitutions and flavors are indeed valuable and can really help people choose which herbs to use. 
My point is that we all come to herbs armed with our own knowledge and learn more each time we come in contact with the plants.  It's even great to take classes and learn more. 
If someone needs to put other herbalists down in order to sell classes, you might want to think about who you're learning from.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Tina.

Wendy Johnson said...

I feel your anguish. I am a self-taught herbalist of 40 years. I studied every book and magazine about herbs I could get my hands on over those years. Your magazine is wonderful. These are cruel times. Don't be discouraged. Keep writing you herbal info for everyone. And remember that there are more with you than are against you!

Anonymous said...

Amen! The herbs are given to us freely by Mother Nature but Humans seem to feel the need to capitalize their knowledge instead of sharing it for our loved ones so we can all benefit. Herbalist that have to put others down have not observed nature enough, we all bloom at our own pace and look and smell different and each one holds medicine. Keep sharing!

Anonymous said...

It's sadly the nature of our world these days. If there is money to be made, someone will go to any links to make that money. It says far more about them, then you. Those that are truly interested in using herbs for healing and general needs will find the true teachers. Those that have a fleeting fad of an interest will waste their money. They aren't serious to begin with, they'll make a few teas, or some potpourri and then be on to the next thing. I grew culinary and healing herbs for years and still maintain a small herb garden. When I sold my herb plants I provided people a list of traditional and culinary uses, and a reading list of the books that would tell them how best to use the plant if they wanted to use it for medicinal purposes....but those were simpler times (the 1980's) before the internet made "experts" of anyone who could type. Carry on. Those who seek true knowledge will find the resources.

linda conrou said...

I hear you, and of course people need to have information passed along.If a person wants to work as a clinician then knowing constitutions, energetics helps to broaden their knowledge and effect. But one does not need to know these things to soothe a bug bite with plantain or to calm an upset stomach with a cup of mint tea. Herbalism is peoples medicine, and should remain so. It is concerning,the attitude you speak of has the potential to "elevate" herbal work to a professional status, which could open all sorts of rabbit holes.