The things you notice once you start studying a new subject are quite interesting. Before I started studying and sampling herbs for my study course, I didn't pay much attention to warnings on things about what not to take. However, I'm having back surgery - a laminectomy - in a couple of weeks and my pre-surgery sheet says I must stop taking a number of things at least four days before the procedure. Among them are St. John's Wort, Echinacea, Gingeng, Black Licorice, Gingko and "herbals." Having just sampled Echinacea Root today and done some research on its properties, I find that it's good for all acute inflammatory conditions. Most certainly, my spinal nerves are inflamed. So now I just need to find out why that wouldn't help rather than hurt.
So here I am in my second week of my herbal studies course with a kitchen counter swamped underneath containers of (so far) 36 herbs - most of which I've never heard of and most certainly have no idea what they do or how they taste. One of my assignments is to taste each herb, individually. That's pretty daunting when you hold a bag up to your nose and it smells of fetid earth or grass. However, I've discovered that it's more fun experimenting with them when I don't look up their properties beforehand. And I've already learned that the smell doesn't always identify the taste and whether or not it will be pleasant. I give each herb a taste and then wait to see if I notice any changes. For instance, one of my cups was Catnip. I guess I've read so much about how cats react to it that I figured I'd be hyped up. Nope. The only thing I noticed, and I commented to a co-worker that I was sure it was my imagination, was that my sinuses seemed to open up and I could breathe better. From there, I looked up its properties online and discovered that it's widely known as a decongestant.
That lovely little vision is Valerian root. As an aromatherapist, I know firsthand how awful the essential oil is. I used 1 drop in a blend in a patient's room at hospice and tried to mask it with more pleasant EOs but to no avail. I was fairly quickly asked to get rid of it as it was permeating the whole building.
So now I've embarked on an herbal studies course and one of the first group of herbs I was asked to purchase and work with was ... yes, valerian root. I immediately opened the package to see if it smells like the essenial oil and, oddly, it does not. It still has that "dirty socks" smell it's always described as having but there was an underlying sweetish something I couldn't quite identify. I made a cup of tea last night and gave it a go. I was surprised that it wasn't as totally horrid as I expected but it will certainly never be one of my favorite tastes. Even so, I would put it in a blend for sure. And I can't quite be sure - maybe I was just tired because I didn't sleep well the night before - but I think I slept better. More experiments to come...
Since I'm constantly asked about herbs and I continually have to say, "I'm an aromatherapist, not an herbalist," I decided maybe it was time to add "herbalist" to my skill set. So, with a recommendation from a knowledgeable source, I signed up for Rosemary Gladstar's course. I'm a little intimidated because there are so many different herbs to learn - names, properties, cautions, etc. but I think it will be fun to experiment and learn. Who knows where this will take me?
One advantage of working in hospice is that I get to play with all the therapy dogs. This is Asher, a Corgi.