Journey into the Heart of Herbalism: From Garden to Apothecary

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In today’s healthcare landscape, where technology and pharmaceuticals reign, the simplicity and accessibility of herbalism offers a refreshing alternative. Conventional or allopathic medicine is unmatched for acute, life-saving scenarios, but plant medicine – also known as herbalism or herbology – is the medicine of the home.

Just as tending a garden strengthens our bond with nature, exploring herbalism reconnects us with ancient healing traditions. This practice, deeply rooted in the cycles of nature, dates back to prehistoric times. Civilizations from ancient Egypt and China to Greece and Rome nurtured this art, weaving a rich tapestry of knowledge and lore.

Papyros Ebers (Ebers Papyrus) Leipzig, 1875
Found in Egypt in the 1870s, the Ebers Papyrus (dated to around 1550 BCE) contains prescriptions written in hieroglyphics for over seven hundred remedies. This prescription for an asthma remedy is to be prepared as a mixture of herbs heated on a brick so that the sufferer could inhale their fumes.

Herbalism, much like a garden, has grown through various cultures and eras, blossoming into a blend of traditional wisdom and modern science. In contrast to the often disconnected world of modern medicine, herbalism offers a direct link to the healing power of the earth, a connection as nurturing as any garden.

Rosemary in Sage Mountain garden.

According to the World Health Organization in a report published in 2019, 80 percent of the world’s population uses some form of traditional medicine and healing. While modern, conventional healthcare is often complex and costly, herbalism is affordable, accessible, and, most importantly, an effective system of healing.

Herbal remedies are most effective for the everyday health challenges we encounter, from minor injuries to common ailments like headaches, colds, and many chronic conditions, yet their true power lies in prevention. Herbs, rich in essential nutrients and complex chemicals, act as the ultimate guardians of our health, reinforcing our body’s natural defenses. Their potent compounds nourish and strengthen our immune system.

When we bring herbal plants into our diet, our own bodies become more resilient and hardy – much like the resilient, wild, “weedy” plants that thrive despite harsh conditions. More than just treating ailments, herbalism embraces the philosophy of holistic well-being. By nurturing the whole self, we align with nature’s balanced approach to healing.

Starting on your journey into herbalism...

Embarking on the herbal path can be as simple as planting a seed. A small herb garden can be a source of both beauty and remedy, a tangible connection to the earth and its nurturance. Here are some medicinal herbs that are simple and easy to grow. You may even have some of these around you already!

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)


This beautiful, vibrant, and abundant storehouse of nutrients and medicinal properties has the ability to thrive no matter what – much to the chagrin of those unfamiliar with its virtues! The root is a classic liver tonic or blood purifier. It stimulates and decongests the liver and encourages optimal digestion.

Dandelion leaf is a powerhouse of nutrients, rich with iron, calcium, vitamins, and trace minerals. Dandelion greens are a delicious food served all around the world. Even the bright sunny flowers are a source of food and medicine.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary is a legendary brain tonic, improving concentration and memory. It enhances the cellular uptake of oxygen and is a mild and uplifting stimulant, and it has long been valued for its ability to ease headaches and migraines and relieve mild to moderate depression. It is also a well-known circulatory stimulant, useful for problems associated with the cardiovascular system, poor circulation, and low blood pressure.

Research shows that Rosemary contains high levels of rosmaricine, which acts as a mild analgesic, and antioxidants, which together make it useful for soothing inflammation, such as in arthritis and joint damage. Whether used fresh or dried, it is a good digestive aid, facilitating the digestion of fats and starches.1Excerpted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide © 2012 by Rosemary Gladstar, published by Storey Publications. All rights reserved.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
This tiny, fragrant herb beloved by gardeners, chefs, and pollinators has long been revered for its medicinal properties. Oftentimes overlooked, I think it’s one of our best herbal remedies. Thyme is a powerful disinfectant that can be used internally and externally to ward off infections. It’s one of my favorite cold and cough remedies and is used in many antifungal remedies as well.

Herbalism is kitchen medicine

While there is an art and science to herbalism, if you know how to make a simple cup of tea, you can make effective herbal remedies! As your knowledge and understanding of plants grows, your ability to work with them in more complex ways will deepen.

How to Make an Herbal Infusion

Infusions, also called tisanes, are used when preparing the more fragile parts of the plant – the leaves, fruits, seeds, flowers and roots with a high concentration of volatile oils. Infusing extracts the easily rendered vitamins, minerals, tannins, mucilage, delicate volatile oils, and many of the plant’s chemical constituents.

Rosemary Gladstar pouring a cup of tea
Directions to prepare an infusion:
  1. Put 4 to 6 tablespoons of dried herbs (6 to 8 tablespoons if fresh) into a glass quart jar.
  2. Pour boiling water over the herbs, cover, and allow to steep for 10 to 20 minutes. The length of steeping time will depend on the herbs being used and the active plant constituents you wish to extract.
  3. Strain and drink.

Here’s a simple infusion you can make with herbs that are probably already in your kitchen cabinet!

Rosemary and Lemon Thyme Tea
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Rosemary & Lemon Thyme Tea

Rosemary & Lemon Thyme Tea is a delicious, refreshing, and mildly stimulating tea. To make this infusion, use equal parts of Rosemary and Lemon Thyme. If you don’t have Lemon Thyme, any other Thyme will work as well…but Lemon Thyme is lovely for tea.


  • 3 tbsp Rosemary, dried (6 tbsp if fresh)
  • 3 tbsp Lemon Thyme, dried (6 tbsp if fresh)


  • Place herbs into a glass quart jar.
  • Pour boiling water over the herbs, filling the jar and let steep for up to 10 minutes.
  • Strain and add a squeeze of Lemon and a touch of honey, if you like.


Give yourself time to slowly sip and enjoy the many benefits these wonderful herbs give to us!
All Content [copy] 2023 The Science & Art of Herbalism

Herbalism, in its essence, is a celebration of life and health, deeply rooted in the wisdom of nature. It invites us to reconnect with the healing rhythms of the earth, offering a harmonious complement to our health and well-being.

“I am my own healer. I have a radiant voice within that guides me. I can make decisions for myself. I can rely on others as needed, but at my discretion. It is my body, my health, my balance, and my responsibility to make right choices for myself. Right choices include working with competent healthcare professionals when necessary, allowing friends and family to help as needed, and, above all, being true to my beliefs, with the wisdom and willingness to change as a part of the path of healing.”

While herbalism offers many benefits, it’s important to empower yourself with knowledge. Understanding the right use and sourcing of herbs is key to safely integrating them into your wellness routine. To delve deeper into the magical world of herbalism, seek out experienced herbalists to guide you. There are myriad resources – books, courses, and community workshops – waiting to unfold the secrets of herbalism.

This journey, much like gardening, is a nurturing process, one that grows and evolves with time and care. We invite you to walk with us on this journey into the heart of the Green Nations.

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21 days ago

5 stars
So beautifully written. It truly inspires people to make that connection to the Green World. There is something to be said about having a life long journey with plants.

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