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It’s so important that we know where our herbs are coming from.
We want to know that our medicine was grown and harvested in accordance with the best practices for the health of the plant and the environment.
It’s very important that the herbs we’re using were obtained ethically and that they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals.
If our herbs have been sprayed, then those chemicals end up in our extracts, and eventually, our bodies.
It's definitely a wonderful thing when we can collect our herbs out of the wild.
It’s a great feeling to identify a plant, harvest it, and make extracts with it.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.
Sometimes we need a plant that isn’t available for harvesting at that particular time of year. Sometimes we need a plant that doesn’t grow in our ecosystem. Sometimes we may be familiar with how to use a plant, but don’t know how to identify it in the wild. Or maybe we simply don’t have the time or the interest to go out in search of plants in the wild places or to grow them ourselves.
In any of these cases, we’ll purchase or trade for the herbs we need to make our extracts.
A great place to get bulk herbs is the local health food store or food co-op, if you’re lucky enough to have one.
The bulk section of your health food store or co-op is such a wonderful place to buy herbs. You can open the jar or the bag and smell it and know exactly what you’re getting. You can get just as much or as little as you need.
However, not everyone has that option.
If you don’t have a local health food store or food co-op that sells organic herbs in bulk, then you can get them online or over the phone.
Two places that I would suggest are Mountain Rose Herbs and Frontier Herbs.
Both of these suppliers are very reliable places to get high quality, organic, medicinal plants in bulk.
I don’t get anything from telling you that.
I’ve just been using both of these companies as sources of high quality bulk herbs for myself and my family for a very long time.
Sometimes we have the opportunity to trade for our herbs.
Maybe we're trading our own herbs and extracts that we have in surplus. Maybe we're trading for a service we can provide in exchange.
It's possible to trade for all kinds of things, really.
There are as many opportunities for trading as there are kinds of people in the world.
I am a lifelong fan of the barter system, and I'm all for it.
However, the same rules apply with a trade as apply to buying herbs.
Be sure you're getting your plants from a trusted and reputable source.
Not only do you want to be sure that your herbs are the highest quality, but you need to be absolutely certain that these plants were identified correctly.
You don't want to end up with ineffective or even dangerous extracts!
And for pete's sake, please don't trade with someone you just met online. There's just no telling. Even good people with the best of intentions can make mistakes.
Know and trust your sources.
Another important aspect of finding the highest quality herbs is environmental impact of the harvesting of these plants
These plants are a gift from the natural world, and in order to guarantee their survival, and the future of herbalism, we need to be very aware, but not only of our own needs. It is imperative that we also consider the health of the natural world.
You can find a more detailed lesson on this topic here.
The United Plant Savers is a non-profit organization that was started by Rosemary Gladstar and her colleagues, with the mission to protect the wild medicinal plants of North America and the ecosystems that they come from. They maintain list of "at risk" plants.
These resources are of vital importance to any herbalist who values the sustained availability of these important healing plants.
I encourage you to get to know the United Plant Savers and their mission. The importance of their mission can't be overstated.
The best way that I’ve found to store bulk herbs is in glass jars out of direct sunlight.
Jars will keep your herbs nice and fresh.
Jars will also keep them from getting compacted from being stacked up on top of each other or smushed into a drawer somewhere.
You are going to want to label it.
Believe me ;)
There’s plenty of times that I put something in a jar thinking that I’ll never forget what’s in this jar.
Then I don’t think about it for a couple of weeks and when I come across it again I think,
“Wait....... What was this?...”
I will sometimes use sticker type labels. More often, I will just tear off a piece of masking tape, stick it on the jar, and write on that.
I’ve also been known to write on the side of the glass jar with a sharpie marker (it comes off later with dish soap of rubbing alcohol), if I don’t have anything else to use as a label.
I like to put the common name and the Latin name on my labels.
I’m not going to get too picky about Latin names right now, but I am definitely a proponent of using the Latin name. I think it’s very important to learn the Latin names for the plants, but we can get into that another time ;)
So, put the name on your label and date it.
The date will help you remember when you got it and will help you keep an eye on its shelf life.
I also like to make a note on the label about where I got the herb, so I can remember where it came from…whether I harvested it myself, bought it at the health food store, got it from Mountain Rose, or wherever.
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Important note: The information contained here is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or imbalance. This lesson has not been evaluated by the FDA. Nothing here attempts to replace the advice of a trained medical professional. Your healthcare choices are your own.