Saturday, January 22, 2011

Herbal Ally Challenge #3: Research

This challenge will be an ongoing challenge that I'll refer back during the course of the year. You can never research your herb too much! We'll keep expanding upon it as the year progresses.

With the resurgence of herbal medicine over the past few decades, a whole variety of herbals have become available. I love having herbals from all sorts of herbalists as it gives me a wide perspective. There are so many styles and traditions and each one offers a unique perspective.

Some of my favorite herbals are:

Gail Faith Edwards
Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs
Through the Wild Heart of Mary
She also has a third book which I have not read yet but I imagine it is just as wonderful as these two!

Susun Weed
Healing Wise
I also have Breast Cancer? Breast Health!, The Menopausal Years and The Childbearing Years

Matthew Wood
the Book of Herbal Wisdom 
The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism - I just received this one in the mail today and I'm looking forward to diving into it tonight after the kids go to bed!
The Earthwise Herbal Volume I and II - This is next on my list to get!

Timothy Lee Scott
Invasive Plant Medicine

These herbalists do not have books out yet but I love to read their articles and videos they post on their blogs and elsewhere in the Herbal Community such as

Jim McDonald
Kiva Rose

What are your favorite herbals?

Assignment 1:
This week it is time to read up on your herbal ally and write down notes in your journal. If you don't know already, make a point to learn:

1. The botanical name of all species used
2. The plant family your ally is from
3. Where your plant is native to and where it has naturalized
4. If you plant is an annual, perennial or biennial (if it's a tree, deciduous or conifer)
5. The primary actions of your herb (the main use)
6. Secondary actions (other known and/or lesser known uses)
7. Forms used (teas, tinctures, poultices, powders, syrups, elixirs, lozenges, etc)
8. Parts used, seasons to harvest (roots, aerial parts, bark, leaves, flowers, seeds)
9. Edibility, seasons to harvest for eating
10. Organ/system affinities (which body organs/systems does your ally affect the most)
11. Other uses for your ally ie: dye, paper, fiber, etc.

Write all this information down in your journal. Make any notes of anything interesting you might find about your herbs. I recommend looking through at least 4 different herbals and/or online articles about your herbs.

Also, get in the practice of writing down your sources when you write down information. You can create a system and use the back page to list your resources so you can just write down a number or letter code that correlates to the herbal next to your notes or you can choose to write out each herbal as you write it. You might also choose to write down the page number(s) for easy reference.

This doesn't have to be an elaborate monologue on your herbal ally at this point. This challenge is to just get you familiar with your herb, a sort of introduction of sorts.

Assignment 2:
After you've learned the actions (both primary and secondary) of your ally, make a point to write down each action and its definition in your journal. This will help remind you what each action is and you'll have a quick reference back in case you forget in the future. As a bonus, write down other herbs that share this action if you know of any. Another bonus: compare and contract your ally with these other herbs.

Jim McDonald has a great article about herbal properties and actions. There's also a list of actions and what they do.

I also recommend Kiva Rose's article on Terms of the Trade: An Introduction to Herbal Actions


Continue to do your infusions as often as you see fit. Be sure to write down any new observances you may have about drinking your daily infusions. Have you gotten into a routine of making a daily infusion? Do you have a preference for temperature or does it vary daily with your mood/the weather?

If you are blogging about your experience, be sure to update your blog with the past challenges and leave a comment on my blog and I'll add your post to the appropriate completed challenge posts.

How is everyone doing with their journals?


karisma said...

My journal is getting there. I am a bit of a gatherer so have enough info to get me going. Am finding it hard to get a hold of herbals that include Tansy but am awaiting a couple from the UK I ordered a week or so ago. I have been blogging along the way as well.

My favourite herbal is "How can I use herbs in my daily life?" by Isabell Shipard. I have all her books. LOVE them!

Stephany said...

You are so far ahead of me. LOL I did get the journal cover made and I have a lot of the other stuff in my notes so it won't take me long to catch up.

Stephany said...

My favorite herbals are M. Grieves,Common Herbs for Natural Health by Juliette de Bairacli Levy and Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss.

I have both of the Earthwise Herbals and they are definitely in the running as well

Yzzy said...

i am just now collecting herbals. kiva rose and jim mcdonald are my favorites!! i had no clue to look at the different species of my gorgeous Charlie that is Creeping :}!!! Thank you so much for hosting this exploration!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails