Photo: woods wheatcroft photography


Herbs work. They are distinct from other plants in that they have constituents and properties that do nothing for the plant itself but have remarkable healing benefits for humans. They are plants that assist the body in its return to wellness, affecting every cell, organ, gland and body part. Whether we need help with tension, congestion or inflammation or more specific healing needs there are herbs to help relieve our dis-eases and restore balance. Herbs are a gift from Creation. Their power, their perfection, provided so abundantly just for us, has inspired herbalists for centuries to feel blessed and grateful, almost to the point of worship.

Perhaps you ‘tried herbs’ and ‘they didn’t work.” There are reasons for this experience. Herbs are not like pills. Modern medicine isolates specific, active components and intensifies them into power-packed pills that target a specific area or condition. This can mean fast, effective results on the target but side effects from their swift and aggressive nature. Quite often a beneficial effect in one area leads to a detrimental effect in another. Herbs, on the other hand, are complex and holistic in their make up, just like us. Certainly, they enter our bodies armed with a full range of components to target the area in need of healing. However, these herbal warriors also support other organs and body parts that are linked to the ailing area. Their effect is broader and with much more sensitive and intelligent understanding of our complex physiology. They work more slowly since they are covering much more territory but their effect is far-reaching and profound. One remarkable herb is very stimulating to kidney function making it a powerful diuretic, comparable to at least one medical drug. Drugs that are diuretic cause the loss of vital potassium from the body which aggravates any cardio-vascular problem. This herb, however, is one of the best natural sources of potassium! It is an ideally balanced diuretic that may be used whenever needed, even when there is water retention due to heart problems. What is this wonderful herbal warrior that is such an inspiring example of the perfection to be found in the Plant Kingdom? It is dandelion. (Taraxacum officinale). Yes, that dandelion. That invasive yellow flower that waves to us from all over our front lawn. Herbs are often relegated to the status of weeds because they grow prolifically and easily, invading gardens, lawns and vegetable patches crowding out more desirable plants. It’s with a heavy heart that I uproot countless red clover plants (Trifolium pratense) in my wildly weedy back yard each year. It is an excellent blood cleanser and nerve tonic, helpful for bronchitis and eczema. However, it will cover my lawn and house eventually if I do not keep it in check. Harvesting, drying and storing an herb like this requires time, effort and space that I don’t have. So, I praise it as I pull it and give thanks for the bounty in nature, knowing there are plenty more plants growing in organic and wild-crafter gardens who supply me with my ready-dried variety.

Another reason you may be saying you ‘tried herbs’ and ‘they didn’t work’ is that you may have misunderstood the nature of your complaint and wrongly decided on the herb you needed. Sinusitis often requires herbs for intestinal cleansing, for example. Did you know which part of the herb to take? How to prepare it? How much to take, how often and for how long? Which herbs combine best for your specific needs? Are you supporting a linked area for best effect? Do you know contraindications? This is the knowledge that distinguishes general understanding from proficient use and results-oriented ability.

Herbalists are trained extensively in physiology and anatomy in order to understand the complex inter-connected nature of our bodies, minds and spirits. They study the ‘specific’ choice of herb for various conditions. Contraindications are also studied.Herbalists often use a second modality in order to understand the health and ill-health of their clients more thoroughly. I use reflexology.

Herbalists are not medical doctors so we do not practice medicine. We offer natural healing principles and support them with herbs. We don’t diagnose. Our work is to match the properties of an herb to the conditions being experienced in the body in order to assist the natural healing ability of the body to restore wellness. Rarely is there no herb available to support the return to wellness when the choice, strength, method, amount and usage are thoughtfully recommended by a professional. Clients are always asked to check with their medical provider before starting on a natural healing program with herbs.

Herbs can be taken as teas or tinctures. They can be applied externally as an ointment, liniment, compress or poultice. They can be inhaled or absorbed as an essential oil. Each method has its particular benefit for body, mind and spirit but herbs, in any fashion, are helpful to us and our health and well-being. Herbs work!

Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium)
A tonic to all glands; stimulates the action of the liver and is one of the best blood cleansers. Found locally and in abundance.

Penny Waters
Master Herbalist, Reflexologist
Can be reached at: 208 597 4343 or

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