Top 4 Most Important Herbs for Beginners

When you are first starting to work with plants, it can be very overwhelming.

There are so many different species and varieties to learn about. So before you go and buy an ounce of every herb you can get your hands on, what are the top herbs for every beginner?

I chose these herbs specifically for their versatility but also because they are easy to find. You may even be able to forage some yourself, or start an herb garden. So let’s dive in!

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)– This warming and stimulating herb have been used for centuries to induce perspiration, remove the chill, and soothe the cold and flu. It is also a digestive stimulator and reduces gas. Ginger is also great for nausea or motion sickness. As a stimulator and blood thinner, it can be used internally or topically to increase circulation and move fluids through the cartilage and joint.

As an antispasmodic, this root is ideal for cramped and stiff muscles, though not inflamed muscles since it is heating. I chose this herb because you can even find it at grocery stores and it is a go-to for multiple imbalances. It is also a great taste masker, so add this to any tea or concoction that has foul-tasting herbs and Ginger will most likely cover that up.

Common preparations are tea for internal use and oil for external use. Typically the fresh root is used the most, as the dried ginger can be too hot. It is generally considered safe for everyone.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)– Peppermint and Ginger have a lot in common as far as how they assist the body, but with a few key differences. Peppermint is stimulating but cooling, with a warming aftertaste. It is perhaps the number one go-to for stomach issues such as indigestion, nausea, and cramping. It has also been used for centuries for fever, flu, and chills, as well as topically for its effect on helping to move the lymph and reduce muscle tension.

Just the scent of peppermint can be helpful in improving cognitive abilities, rousing energy, and calming nausea.

You can use either fresh or dried peppermint. Tea is the most common but a tincture is used as well, or oil or infused cream can be helpful for topical use. If using with children, try Spearmint (Mentha spicata) instead as it is milder.

Nettles (Urtia dioica)– Nettles are perhaps one of the most nutrient-dense wild plants around today. A long-standing folk remedy, Nettle has been used for allergy relief, building blood during pregnancy and menstrual cycles, added vitamins and minerals, detoxification through its diuretic properties, pain relief (particularly joint pain), eczema, lowering blood pressure, and promoting lung health.

Nettle is full of protein, chlorophyll, indoles (including histamine and serotonin), dietary fiber, and Vitamin C. Because of their many minerals and vitamins, Nettles are also great for the immune system.

Nettles can be used fresh or dried, topically and internally. If using topically for pain, use the fresh plant and either create a poultice or thrash the full plant on the affected area a few times. Internally, to receive the nutritive benefits be sure to make a tea of the dried plant material. The taste is very earthy so you can mask it with peppermint, red raspberry leaf (my personal favorite), or lemon balm.

You can also prepare a tincture with fresh plants. This is also a plant that is traditionally used in the form of food as medicine.

Nettle soup, Nettle pasta, Nettle bread, powdered nettle as a seasoning additive. The list is endless. Just be sure to dry or cook to release the stinging effects before you use it.

Plantain (Plantago majus)– This wild green is a powerhouse of internal and external healing. Its number one healing action is as a drawing agent. This small, rampantly spreading plant has been known to drawn out venom from all sorts of critters, dirt, pus, and infection when applied topically as a poultice and/or decoction. I have personally seen it used on brown recluse bites and scrapes, and I have heard it used traditionally for snake bites. (See Disclaimer at bottom)

It is a must-know plant for those who enjoy outdoor adventures because it is perfect for first aid and grows rampantly in well-trafficked areas as well as pops up sporadically in natural areas. For injuries, it also helps to slow bleeding and cleans out the wound. Internally, it can also be helpful with bronchial infections and pneumonia.

It cools and moistens (so ideal for dry coughs), But it also helps to draw up and out mucus and fluids in the lungs. Its cooling affinity is also perfect for fevers and for scurry. It contains vitamin C, potassium, and calcium.

Plantain is most commonly used as a poultice, decoction, or salve topically. Fresh plants are ideal but it can be dried for wintertime use. You can also add it to salads or juice it.

For the most part, these plants should be able to be found out in nature or in a local shop. I will not cover wildcrafting in depth at this time but always be aware of the impact you are making on the ecosystem. Do not take more than 1/5 of the population and always try to leave the area as undisturbed as possible. (Click here to learn more about wildcrafting)

Also, be aware of any pesticides or chemicals that could have been sprayed in that area.

I hope you feel a bit more confident in starting your own herbal apothecary and I can’t wait to see what you all make.

***All information and content on this site is presented for educational and entertainment purposes only. Nothing presented on this site is intended to constitute or be used as a substitute for advise from a licensed medical professional and should not be taken as such. If you are experiencing any medical emergency including possible envenomation, please contact your local emergency services immediately. Always consult with your primary care physician before beginning any herbal treatment.***

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