On October 26, I attended the College of Charleston’s Office for Alternative Agriculture, herbalism workshop. During this workshop, a presentation on herbal medicine was given. The speaker gave a general overview of what herbalism is, explained different doctrines, medical implications, resources, forms and uses. I will be summarizing the information I learned from the presentation in this post. For those who are unaware, herbalism is the practice of using natural herbs as healing aliments as opposed to using westernized medicine, such as prescription pills and other chemically developed medicines. There are different ways to practice herbalism. Some choose to consume herbs as a way to prevent and suppress symptoms of illness. While other individuals may treat themselves with herbs once they notice they are not feeling up to par. The traditional method of herbalism however, is to consume a variety of herbs daily to prevent feeling ill in the first place. There are several ways herbs can be consumed. They can be dried out and pressed into powders, which can be mixed into food or drinks. Or grinded up and placed in capsules. Tinctures are another method of consumption, which converts herbs into a liquid form by placing them in ethanol or vinegar. Once fermented, the leaves are strained and users consume the liquid at small doses at a time. Combinations of dried herbs can be placed in bags for tea. Herbs can also be mixed into soaps, vaporizers and candles for aromatherapy. There is no right or wrong way to consume herbs however just with anything, too much of one thing can be harmful. Most medical conditions can be treated by herbalism, with exceptions of course. The speaker focused on mental health issues that can be aided with the help herbs. Using the following herbs for example, can relieve anxiety: passionflower, holy basil, kava kava, lavender, chamomile and jasmine to name a few. Alertness can be increased by ginseng, maca, gingko, rosemary and matcha. Generally users do not experience side effects while taking herbal medicine. Addiction and dependence are also not associated with herbal remedies. The same cannot be said for pharmaceutical medicine. A large range of problems can arise from long-term prescription pill use. This especially occurs when people on controlled substances such as depressants, painkillers and stimulants. One does not need to get a prescription for herbal remedies, though it may be advisable to talk to a doctor of naturopathic medicine or herbalist before buying multiple herbal tonics. This will ensure that the client does not over consume supplements.
At the end of the presentation, students were allowed to go up to a table and make their own herbal teas and incense. We were presented with flowerpots of freshly grown rosemary, lavender, spearmint, lemon balm and sage. I had no idea how easy it is to make tea. All one needs to do is separate the desired herbs from the stem, place them into an empty tea bag which can be purchased at any food store, and tie the bag shut. Overall I enjoyed my experience at this workshop and hope that more will occur in the future. I hope to professionally practice herbalism as part of my career in health.