This article was originally published in Herbalists Sans Frontières Magazine, a quarterly downloadable PDF magazine that shares international articles from herbalists around the world. Join Herbalists Without Borders before March 2013, and receive a free one-year membership!©photo:http://www.artandgj.com/
There was once a time when an herbalist would learn his or her craft from a community Elder. She or he would apprentice with the Elder for years on end: learning about the local plant lore; understanding how to transform simple herbs into potent medicine; and recognizing the variations of different illnesses and states of disease. These days, the majority of herbalists are left to their own devices – to forge their own paths and weave their own experiences into a cloak of knowledge – a patchwork tapestry of their own teachings and experiences.
As self-made herbalists, finding the best herb school or teacher can be challenging. Not only are there a plethora of schools and teachers to choose from, but there are also practical implications to consider. Things such as cost, credentials, format, and duration. And even after finding the perfect school or teacher, the true learning occurs only when you’re actively engaged in your education. Succeeding as an herbalist means embracing a life of learning, and taking responsibility for your own learning process. Therefore, it’s important to embrace education in all its forms, and these days online herbal resources are a fantastic place to grow your knowledge.
I recently read an article written by an herbalist about how she became an herbalist for (almost) free. It inspired me to highlight some of the best free herbal resources on the web. As with any resource, the Internet has a plethora of information, ranging from low to high quality. Yet, with the right navigation, you can find a wealth of high quality information and wisdom, and tap into a community that is really quite formidable. These free online resources can be roughly divided into four categories: databases, articles, manuals, and blogs. The following represents some of my favourite sites and resources. It’s an organic list that is always growing, and you can alway check back for new additions to this list.
A great place to start finding quality herbal articles and resources is through navigating herbal databases. Her are some initial places to start:
- The American Botanical Council operates Herb Med, which offers dynamic herb monographs for the 20 most popular herbs, including one herb of the month. The remaining herbs in their database are available only through subscription to their service.
- The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine offers Herbs at a Glance, a comprehensive database of medicinal herb monographs.
- Several herbal monographs are available at Canadian Natural Health Product Directorate website.
- And finally, this list would not be complete without mentioning PubMed, which is a great place to search for biomedical citations from herbal clinical trials.
Manuals and Articles
- Probably one of the best herb manual resources online, especially for accessing out-of-print pharmacopeia’s and quality herb manuals is the site for the formidable herbalist Michael Moore.
- Henriette Kress also provides an extensive list of textbooks online as well as several other herbal resources including a photo database and Q&A forum.
- Another place to find good resources is through 7Song’s site, which consists of numerous handouts, manuals, and forms such as patient intake forms, botany guides, and first aid handouts to name a few.
- Paul Bergner operates Med Herb, a site that provides a wealth of information including some great hyperlinks and online herbal resources.
- An excellent web resource for finding high quality articles related to herbal medicine is Jim McDonald’s Article Index, which categorizes numerous online articles by topic, including by disease and plants. His site hosts a wealth of other informative links
- The American Herbalists Guild offers free professional training webinars to members and nonmembers alike.
- Plant Healer Magazine is available for purchase at a very reasonable rate, and you can download a free sample issue featuring 20 articles and over 150 illustrations.
- Learning Herbs offers a selection of free lessons, articles, and videos when you enter your email address.
- The Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism has an excellent selection of free handouts from numerous classes and public lectures.
- Other notable online resources are websites run by David Hoffman, Christopher Hobbs, Matthew Woods, Aviva Romm, and Rosalee de La Forêt to name a few.
Herbal blogging is a fantastic place to gain and share knowledge. As we enter this age of social media and online portfolios, having an online presence and maintaining a personal herbal blog is almost mandatory. Even the most junior of all herbalists can share their experiences with herbal education and getting to know their plant allies. And blogging about what you know – no matter the stage of your learning process – is a great way to solidify your knowledge. The most popular blogging templates are WordPress and Blogger, and you can check out a few of my tips & tricks on how to get started with blogging. Once your herbal blog is live, make sure to register it with Methow Valley Herb’s blog roll, which will help people find you. A few notable blogs are Bear Medicine Herbals, Chestnut Herbs, Numen Film, and The Herbarium, although there are so many amazing blogs on this list that it’s really worth the effort of visiting each one!
And if you don’t want the headache of maintaining a blog, but would like to publish articles online, or if you would like to increase the visibility of your blog, then consider publishing your articles here at Herb Geek, and join our growing community of herbalists sharing knowledge and experiences.
In this article, I’ve focused solely on free resources, and purposely neglected the many great online journals, schools, and other herbal resources that are available for purchase at very reasonable rates. And the sites I’ve mentioned above are only a fraction of the numerous online herbal resources available. What are your favorite herbal resources? Post a comment and let me know!