When I first decided that I was going to take a natural approach to medicine, I was a little bit overwhelmed- there are what seems like an infinite number of herbs! It was such a daunting task to decide where to start. I don’t remember my family using herbal remedies when I was growing up, but then again, I was rarely sick. When my oldest child was a baby, my dad grew catnip to give her for colic. If he knew more herbal remedies than this, he never mentioned it.
So I got a few books, attended a class or two, still the amount of information was overwhelming. I wanted to get to the point where I had a basic knowledge to draw from so that I wouldn’t have to page through books for the simplest of remedies. Then I got a book from the library called 10 Essential Herbs: Everybody’s Handbook to Health by Lalitha Thomas. This was the key- narrowing it down to a manageable number of herbs. Most of the herbs on the list are pretty common, and very versatile. She even has little rhymes for each herb to help one learn the uses of the herbs. Here is, according to Lalitha, the 10 essential herbs: cayenne, chaparral, cloves, comfrey, garlic, ginger, onion, peppermint (my favorite!), slippery elm, and yarrow. There is one from her list that I do not think should be there though, and that’s chaparral. I have heard that it has been known to cause kidney and lymph lesions and liver failure if taken internally, but may be safe if used externally. Chaparral isn’t something that grows locally in my area of the country anyway. Also, I would have put echinacea on the list of top 10 most useful herbs. So despite the fact that I don’t agree with all her choices for the list, I think the whole concept of it is so useful- get to know just a handful of common (very versatile) herbs, and have some around in case you need them… genius!
*Disclaimer- this is my simple approach to home herbalism- I am not an herbalist nor a doctor. Check with your doctor or herbalist before taking any herb.