A Beginner’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs

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Within hours of starting to read Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide, I had started a tincture and an infusion. It is one of my favorite herbal books for beginners, and I’m not alone in that opinion. It is one of the classics.

The book starts with basic info about herbs, then includes a chapter on how to make herbal remedies. She has complete instructions for making teas, decoctions, syrups, oils, salves, tinctures, herbal pills, baths, poultices, and compressions.

As a beginner’s guide to medicinal herbs, all of the 33 herbs covered are completely safe. You’ll recognize many of them as culinary herbs too — basil, cayenne, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, rosemary, sage, thyme, and turmeric. Rosemary explains that the difference between using an herb in cooking and using it in healing usually has to do with quantity. As they say, the dose makes the poison, or um, medicine, in this case. If you have an ailment and simply throw a little of an herb into your dinner, it’s not going to have a medicinal effect. She gives you complete instructions on how much to use, which type of remedy, and how long to use it. The info varies based upon the type of problem and if it’s chronic or acute.

Solar-infused oil

beginner's guide to medicinal herbs

Tinctures and solar-infused oils are the easiest to make. Since we had a post about tinctures last month, I’ll tell you how to make a solar-infused oil this time. Because natural oils go rancid fairly quickly, you don’t want to make more than you think you’ll use in a few weeks. For this reason, I use a half-pint canning jar. You should use dried herbs because fresh herbs have moisture in them, and whenever there’s “water” in something, it tends to spoil unless it has a preservative. If you feel you must use fresh herbs, Rosemary recommends at least wilting them for a few hours to get rid of a fair amount of the moisture.

A class for YOU if you are absolutely sure that you can’t grow anything!

Place your dried herbs in the jar — about half full — and cover with an inch or two of olive oil or some other high-quality oil. Please do not use something like “vegetable oil,” which is made with genetically modified corn and soy. That would defeat the whole purpose of making a medicinal oil. Let it sit in a window for two weeks, then strain through cheesecloth or some type of filter.

The oils will last longer if you store them in the refrigerator. If you don’t do that, at least store them in a dark, cool cabinet. Ironically, oils don’t go rancid as long as the herbs are being infused. It is only after the herbs have been removed that you have to worry about them going rancid. And once the oils start to smell funky, don’t use them. “Our skin is our largest organ of assimilation and elimination, and we should treat it well,” Rosemary says. “If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.”

A Beginner's Guide to Medicinal Herbs

16 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs”

  1. Sounds like a great book! So many others have far too little, or far too much overwhelming information. This books sounds as if it is simple yet informative! Just in time for me as we are expanding our small herb garden into a massive herb garden this weekend! Can’t wait 🙂

  2. This is rigth up my alley. I grow my own herbs and make sun-infused oils for un-petroleum jelly and soap. But unfortunately I do not live in the US of A 🙁

  3. I was heavy into using herbs as a teenager but got incredibly out of practice when adult responsibilities demanded all of my time. This book is exactly what I need to get back into herbal medicining, so I can pass along these natural and ancient techniques to my children.

  4. My husband was doing the natural remedies before and we have discussed doing it together now. This sounds like a book that would get us on the road to a healthier living. Thank you for the chance!

  5. I have been born with a passion for herbs and their benefits. I am the one that my family and friends go to to know what herb will help. I am always looking for more information on herbs and feel that Rosemary Gladstar provides prime content that will help me study to become a the best at what I do.

  6. I’ve been living a healthy lifestyle this year mainly due to doctors advice in changing my diet and activity level. My whole family is on this journey with me. I think this book would be another step up in our journey <3 Thanks for the chance!!

  7. I am such a beginner that I have found many books are already past my level, but this one sounds like the perfect place to begin. I have already put some mint leaves in my oven since reading your post. At least I have started this journey. I would love this book.


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