Using Herbs….

I’m so enamored by herbs. So much so that whenever I’m walking/biking near or driving passed any area of wild plants my head turns to try and observe and identify the plants/flowers that are growing. There is this perpetual need to discover what plants are available to utilize for their amazing health/wellness benefits! There is nothing quite as exciting, at this point in my life, as identifying plants. It’s not always easy either and ALWAYS important, before assuming you have found what you are actually looking for, to make sure it is definitely the right plant. Honestly there have been 3 times lately where I thought I had found the plant I was looking for, but it turned out to be something else. Each time I have been very grateful I looked it up to double check. It keeps me from utilizing the wrong plant and to research further on what it is that I did find and to remind myself, again, what the plant that was being sought out actually looks like. It amazes me, when starting to forage, how many plants look similar enough to others to throw me off; even when it seems definite that I found what I was looking for. The best rule of thumb is to research images & plant descriptions once the plant is in hand. This will lead to safety & more accuracy in the future!

Field near where I have wild harvested Mullein, Blue Vervain, Goldenrod, & Yarrow.
foraging for skullcap
Thinking I discovered American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) when it is actually young Motherwort plants.

My favorite part of wild harvesting and foraging is the company & time spent with my children! It is always a great way to get outdoors and discover the intricacies of nature. There are things hidden in the forest that we rarely get to see but when we take observant walks along the trails we not only see some of these hidden treasures but may start to look as if we’re joining their family😊🦃!

I’ve been duped twice now on trying to find American Skullcap and again the other day when thinking I found some St. John’s Wort. Every time it was essential that I looked these up to compare images & really research, closely, if the plant that I had was actually correct. All these times it was not, and this is a more lasting learning experience than just finding the right thing the first time. When/if I do find American Skullcap (St. John’s Wort is something I finally sought out and bought from a Native Plant grower here in town Stone Silo Prairie Gardens), I will know it from that point on. The more mistakes made, the more retention later!

My other favorite part about herbs is concocting wellness remedies with them. There is something magical & relationship forming about cutting them up and pouring the menstruum over nature’s growing gifts of health and wellness. I truly just brightens my spirits! With herbal remedies containing, not only, essential nutrients/minerals/vitamins but also amazing constituents that continue to be scientifically researched for their actions/benefits they are such a simple way to adjust the health of your body! Just like plants in the Amazon Rain Forest, we have amazing plants with their own unique nature’s helping touch, right here among us. We do eat plants and the “plantier” they look/taste, usually, the more nutritious they are🤔.

There is a myriad of strengthening, nourishing, enriching, balancing, restorative & boosting affects that the right herbs can have on the right person’s body. To analyze/research your personal self please read: Body into Balance by Maria Noel Groves! It is an amazing book for discovering how herbs work for your body, based on your personal issues, and how to identify what herbs to use versus not use.

Since incorporating herbs, daily, into my healthcare routine for the past year, I’ve found so many benefits! Some of these include: healthier skin (I feel like it heals really fast/overnight even though I do still have blemishes they are smaller and more like my skin just releasing dirt/grime with less sores/serious blemishes & my dermatillomania (skin picking) has significantly reduced because I have more control & less anxiety. My PMS symptoms have become much less severe & more manageable as well as the anxiety/stress/uncontrollable outbursts that fluctuate each month have significantly reduced. I suffer from menorrhagia and this has lessened (Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata, is my new go to for this), & my muscle development has increased (incorporating herbal tinctures/glycerites into my daily healthcare routine has been the tipping point to helping my body absorb nutrients in a way that has allowed my muscles to develop. I’ve never had defined muscles, small frame but never muscle; even when on swim team, lifting weights, in gymnastics, running track or ice skating when I was younger. For me it just seems like the perfect way to maintain health, but it is a daily/weekly commitment. I really love the distinctive color and flavor each herb expresses as well. They are beautiful and each with a unique appearance & specific herbal notes of flavor!

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My last part of herbal growing & harvesting that is rewarding and a beautiful way to savor herbs is through the drying process. This year it has been so much easier/quicker to do this with my LED lights. Last year I just used them as an extra shelf but never thought to leave the lights on and let the heat help. Well, this has been a dream come true! In our humid weather it can be very challenging to dry things like Roses, Calendula, and some other more moisture rich flowers. This is no longer an issue.

The main reason for drying this year, other than making oil infusions,

infusions in the window
My favorite window in the whole house!

is to save a variety of flowers/leaves for decorating Christmas cookies. It is an experience, in the heart of winter, that brings sunshine, summer, and beauty into our home! We even use some extras like bits of chocolate, dried fruit, and this year I want to try some orange/lemon zest as well. As I jar each dried herb it is a reminder that this tradition will live on!

Thanks so much for stopping by! I really hope this has given you a bit more insight on herbs and the reason they are so dear to me–physically, mentally, wellness wise, & aesthetically.
Love always,

Visit my herbal shop @ AnnesBackyardHerbal on Etsy and see what I’ve added. I now offer a glycerite and some skincare oil infusions. More coming soon!

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