Hello and welcome! Today I will be going over five steps to becoming an herbalist and building a strong foundation for your practice. Herbalism is the people’s medicine and has been practiced for millennia. Herbalists build relationships with plants by studying their properties, life cycles, growing requirements, and best practices for harvesting. Becoming an herbalist is a life-long journey that requires patience and dedication to learning.
There are many different ways to practice herbalism and several paths to choose from. I practice Western Herbalism, but there are so many other paths that you may feel more culturally aligned with, like Ayurvedic or Traditional Chinese Medicine. If you are unsure, I encourage you to research what your ancestors may have practiced and begin there.
Here are a few of my favorite books that you may find helpful:
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier
This is one of my favorite books because it provides hundreds of detailed plant profiles, basic herbal remedies, and an overview of the history of herbalism across many different cultures.
The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne
This is an excellent resource for learning about energetics and tissue states. They also include several plant profiles and basic remedies.
Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar
This was my very first herbalism book so it holds a special place in my heart. Rosemary Gladstar breaks down herbal remedies in a very approachable way. She is an excellent resource for beginners and makes herbalism seem less intimidating.
The Healing Garden by Juliet Blankespoor
Juliet Blankespoor is the founder of Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, where I studied herbalism. She has a beautiful way with words and her book really showcases her love for plants. This book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in gardening and growing their own herbs. She also includes several plant profiles and recipes.
The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism: Basic Doctrine, Energetics, and Classification by Matthew Wood
Matthew Wood approaches herbalism in a very spiritual way. I love this book, though it can be a bit dry. He doesn’t have the sparkle of Juliet or Rosemary, but I learned a lot from his writings.
Here are a few online resources:
Stocking your apothecary will probably be a gradual process, and there is no need to purchase tons of herbs all at once. I suggest you start with one or two herbs at a time so you can properly study and connect with them. Begin collecting glass jars, glass bottles, and labels to store your dried herbs. Research local herbal supply stores or order from trusted companies like Mountain Rose Herbs. Start researching local native plants, get a regional field guide, and learn about ethical wildcrafting.
I encourage you to get outside, breathe fresh air, and visit nearby green spaces. Find local plant nurseries and just take a look around. Care for an indoor plant or build a garden. There are so many ways to connect with nature.
Hello and welcome! My name is Kate and I am an herbalist and backyard farmer. If you are a beginner herbalist or just looking for information on plants, I write about gardening, natural remedies, and herbalism.