1. Sharp knife or scissors for snipping plant material
2. Cup or jar with lid for brewing tea
3. Small metal mesh strainer (if larger strainer, you'll also need a funnel) for straining plant material out of tea
4. Clean cloth handkerchief to line the strainer to strain out smaller plant particles, particularly with herbs such as mullein or blackberry which have irritating hairs or thorns
5. Hand towels for compresses
These are some of the traditional uses of the following plants. Please always make sure you have proper identification before using a herb and please make sure the area where you are gathering is uncontaminated by chemicals, animal waste, etc. Please consult a medical professional if you have a serious health condition.
*Found in yards, on curb corners
*Horizontally ribbed leaves
*Part Used: Leaves
*Poultice used for cuts, scrapes, bug bites, splinters, external infection, rashes
*Tea or compress used externally for burn and wounds (plantain/yarrow tea frozen in an ice cube tray is especially nice for burns and is a good way to preserve the herbs for winter use), internally for dry coughs, ulcers, stomach inflammation caused by food sensitivity
*Compress used for hemorrhoids
*Found in disturbed soil. Loves gardens
*Leaves shaped like goosefoot. White powder under leaves
*Part Used: Leaves
*Tea used as a diuretic and for upset stomach
*A few leaves eaten every couple of hours used for toothaches or other infections, colds or flu, fever blisters
*Parts Used: Leaves and flowers
*Also called bergamot bee balm, horsemint
*Spicy smell similar to oregano
*Grows in ditches and on roadsides. Tough as nails and easy to grow in the garden. Full sun or partial shade.
*Anti-viral, antifungal, antibacterial
*Poultice, tea or compress used for wounds or burns
*Tea used internally or as a steam inhalation (be sure to cover your eyes if you use it this way) for headaches (particularly pressure headaches), sinus infection/congestion, colds, coughs, flu, congestion in head or ears. As a mouth wash (strong anti-decay constituent)
*Compress used for menstrual cramps
*Aromatherapy---crush a few leaves and sniff for a clear mind. I use this when planning speeches to help me communicate clearly
(The plant in the foreground of the photo is a young yarrow plant. The stalk grows much taller and the flowers open into a white bunch.)
*Grows in sun or partial shade in meadows or in yards.
*Ferny leaves. Distinctive menthol-like smell.
*Parts Used: Flowering Tops (including leaves)
*Compress or poultice for wounds, particularly to stop bleeding
*Compress or poultice for sprains, breaks, fungus
*Tea for colds, flu, food poisoning, excessive menstruation
*Yarrow wand as mosquito repellent (Cut a fresh branch of yarrow and lightly tap yourself with it to spread the odor and repel mosquitoes)
*Do not use internally if pregnant
*Moistened, crushed plant material applied externally to affected area
*You may chew the plant material to moisten and crush it both at once if you are preparing a poultice for yourself but most herbalists suggest distilled, tap or spring water if you are preparing it for someone else so as not to spread saliva-borne germs or diseases. Alternatively, you can have person chew their own poultice.
*The material may be wrapped in cheesecloth or a handkerchief and applied to skin or applied directly.
*Most people have made tea at some point in their lives but these directions are for a tea to maximize the benefits to support health
*2 teaspoons dried plant material or 2 tablespoons fresh (may use more for external applications) per 1 cup boiling water
*Boil water. Pour over plant material. Cover (this is important to keep the volatile oils from escaping) and steep 7-20 minutes. Strain. I steep most teas for internal use between 7-10 minutes.
*Make a strong tea
*May be cool (for recent sprains, burns) or warm (cramps, sore muscles)
*Dip hand towel in tea and loosely wring out
*Wrap area. Cover with dry towel
*May use ace bandage to hold moist towel in place
I hope this is helpful for people interested in getting started using herbs but who may not know where to start. I'm available to answer questions by email and I also teach classes in Duncan, Oklahoma and sometimes also in the surrounding areas. (Please check the "local classes" tab to see what is coming up.)