Five Ways to Understand More About an Herb
2. What's in a name? Many of the most historically valued herbs have common nicknames which point to some of their properties and possible uses. Take, for example, one old moniker for ground ivy (Glechoma hederaceae): 'ale hoof', which refers to its historical use in beer brewing (nowadays, hops is used). A common name for lobelia (Lobelia inflata - pictured in this post) is pukeweed, which indicates that it must be taken in very small drop doses (1-10 drops at a time), otherwise it may lead to nausea and vomiting.
3. Get off the internet. This might seem a little counterintuitive considering where you're reading this little nugget of advice, but the truth is that the online sphere is one of the worst (though at times, also the best) place to learn about herbs. SO much of the information about herbs online is copied and pasted in various forms from questionable material, written by ghostwriters who have no actual familiarity with herbs, or either simply scare tactics or marketing ploys with only the most basic understanding/misunderstanding of an herb's actual characteristics. Pull out your trusty herb books and use the indexes to look up reliable information or head to your library and swoop up some good botanical references.
5. While our beloved bestselling herbs like echinacea, elderberry, and arnica are always in style and at this point almost household names in certain circles, a good herbal chest is stocked with so much more than these old favorites. Some of our lesser known but highly valued beneficial herbs include treasures like ground ivy, liferoot, cleavers, spilanthes, feverfew, kudzu root, lobelia, pedicularis, poke, Solomon's seal, usnea, wild lettuce, and yellow dock. As a challenge to yourself, pick one lesser known herb per week or month and use the methods above to learn more about it and incorporate into you and your family's beneficial materia medica. You may be surprised at how integral an herb like poke or lobelia becomes to your emergency aid/self-care kit once you learn how multifaceted and versatile it is.