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As 2020 approaches, my big goal for the coming year is to really immerse myself in herbalism. It’s something I am so passionate about that I am actually looking into taking courses for it and maybe doing it professionally.
The more I learn about any topic, though, the more I realize how hard it is to find the right words to learn more. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know.
Herbalism as a topic is vast and the knowledge held within this topic is both wide and deep. It’s easy for a new person researching herbalism to drown in this knowledge without ever learning much at all!
To help not only myself but others that are considering becoming herbalists, I have compiled a list of topics and terms I want to learn more about this year. Because of how vast a topic herbalism is, this list cannot possibly cover everything we need to learn, but it’s a good place to start.
Without further ado, the beginner herbalism guide to research topics!
Things That Every Beginner Herbalist Should Research
- Herbal actions
- What are adaptogens?
- What are alteratives?
- What are aromatics?
- What are astringents?
- What are bitters?
- What are nervines?
- What are carminatives?
- What are diaphoretics?
- What are diuretics?
- What are emollients?
- What are expectorants?
- What are tonics?
- What are common delivery methods for herbal remedies?
- How do you use a compress?
- How do you use an essential oil?
- How do you use a decoction?
- How do you use an extract?
- How do you use an infusion?
- How do you use an infused oil?
- How do you use a liniment?
- How do you use a poultice?
- How do you use a salve?
- How do you use a syrup?
- Necessary and helpful tools for herbalists
- The history of herbalism
- Local, state, and federal laws of herbalism
- Common local plants that can be harvested for remedies
- What plants are common in your area?
- What are the home remedies in your local area for certain ailments?
- The theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine
- The theories of Ayurvedic medicine
- The theories of plant spirit medicine
- The theories of Indigenous or Tribal Medicine
- The theories of Western herbalism
- The theories of the Eclectics
- Plant identification skills
- How to wildcraft ethically
- How to grow and harvest your own herbal remedies
- Dosages of specific plants for specific ailments
- Herbal nutrition
- How to use kitchen herbs as medicine
- Herbalism for preventative health
- How specific cultures use herbs
- How to understand scientific names of plants
- The use of fermentation in herbalism
- How to make a materia medica
- Herbal remedies as beauty products
- Herbal remedies for female issues
- Herbal remedies for male issues
- Herbal remedies for children
- Herbal remedies for the elderly
- What extraction medium is best for specific plants
- Where to find herbs locally, either in the wild or in stores
- Common herbalist vocabulary
- Language to avoid using as an herbalist
Where To Learn More About Herbalism
There are so many books and articles online about herbalism. Where does someone even start?
I am finding more and more as I research herbalism that Wikipedia is a surprisngly good place to begin research. The articles there give you direction when you feel like you may be at a research dead end. For that reason, I recommend looking through some Wikipedia articles about herbalism now and then.
Here are a few articles to start with:
Each topic you research will, without a doubt, lead you to 10 more. It’s important to understand and accept that you will never know everything about herbalism! Those who have come before us, like Rosemary Gladstar and David Hoffmann, don’t know everything either!
Herbalism is a craft that requires a community that you can turn to when you need more information. So my biggest piece of advice for any beginner herbalist reading this blog post right now is this: Make friends. Seek the advice of others. You are not competing with them, you are working with them to reveal the secrets of plants and heal those around you.