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10 Best Herbs for Beginners

If you're just beginning to dip your toes into the herbal world, the sheer amount of plants and information out there can be overwhelming. In this Mind Body Green blogAlchemist's Kitchen herbalist Micaela Foley points out that "as we see a resurgence of collective interest in traditional plant-based healing, we’re simultaneously inundated with a flood of information, recommendations, and herbal products." So, where to start? 

If you have specific questions related to health, she recommends seeing a trained professional. Herb-focused classes and workshops are also a great place to address specific questions about herbs and dosing. 

If you'd like to begin by exploring on your own, get yourself acquainted with these 10 amazing herbal allies, recommended by Micaela.


via Mind Body Green:

1. Stinging nettle 

Nettle, perhaps more commonly known as "stinging nettle," is an herbalist’s best friend. High in minerals like calcium, iron, protein, and vitamin A, nettle is very nourishing and nutritive. Studies show that nettle can supply 90 to 100 percent of dietary vitamin A. Nettle is a wonderful ally for those suffering with seasonal allergies, as it has powerful antihistamine action.

How to use nettle: Drink nettle as a tea; the best method is to make an overnight infusion by pouring boiling water over the dried leaves, covering it, and letting the tea steep overnight. Nettle can also be used as a tincture or a vinegar or purchased in capsule form and even as a food (fresh nettle is delicious in pestos, soups, and the like). Just make sure to process by blending or cooking to break down the stinging hairs!

 

2. Dandelion 

Dandelion, considered by many to be one of the most maligned weeds, is one of our most versatile and beneficial herbs! All parts of the plant can be used—the flowers make a lovely wine, the tender leaves can be picked and used in a salad, and the root may be decocted (boiled) and enjoyed as a coffee substitute. The leaves and root possess a diuretic quality, and the root contains high levels of inulin and fiber. Inulin is a great prebiotic, feeding beneficial bacteria in the intestines and helping to populate beneficial bacteria in the gut. The root is prized for its liver- and kidney-clearing properties as well. Given dandelion’s abundance and versatile uses, it’s a perfect plant for the beginning herbalist.

How to use dandelion: Experiment away and experience the whole plant. Try making wine, a salad, a decoction, a tincture, a vinegar, or an oxymel. An oxymel is a mixture of honey and vinegar and a great way to administer herbs that don't taste that great on their own.

  

3. Calendula 

Calendula is a beautiful flower as well as another powerhouse herb. Bright yellow and orange, Calendula flowers contain high concentrations of healing resins and flavonoids and have been shown to be antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and have wound-healing properties.

How to use calendula: Calendula really shines as a topical remedy and is an extremely common ingredient in herbal skin care products like balms and salves due to its amazing healing properties. Calendula oil is an effective, gentle remedy for acne, burns, scars, rashes, eczema and psoriasis, skin infections, sties, diaper rash, and is safe to use for babies and nursing mothers. Calendula prepared as a tea or added into medicinal broths can be healing internally as well, for issues like ulcers, stomach upset, colds, and viruses. 


Read the rest at Mind Body Green. 

For herbal classes and workshops, check our event calendar to see what's coming up at The Alchemist's Kitchen. 

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