Best Herbs To Start Your Herbal Journey

Creating a natural medicine cabinet stocked with therapeutic herbs is a deeply meaningful endeavor, whether you cultivate your own herbs, harvest wild plants, or craft medicines from scratch. Of course, it’s also entirely feasible to curate a robust apothecary by sourcing high-quality herbs from local farms and online bulk suppliers. 

So, where should you begin? Drawing from years of teaching, running a clinical practice, and raising a family, I’ve discovered that certain herbs hold universal value for a personal medicine chest.

These herbs boast a high safety profile, are generally budget-friendly, and easy to obtain. Moreover, their versatility means you’ll have a variety of options at your disposal when addressing minor health concerns. Many of these herbs are safe for children and even boast pleasant flavors. It’s essential to review our Safety and Contraindications for each remedy to determine whether there are any herbs you should avoid based on your constitution, medications, or life stage.

The medicinal herbs featured in our top ten list offer both internal and topical benefits. We trust that as you embark on establishing your own home apothecary, you’ll develop a deeper connection with each of these herbs!

1. Calendula

Calendula stands as an iconic medicinal flower and a cornerstone of herbal medicine. Its vibrant orange and yellow blossoms are highly regarded for their topical healing properties, making them effective for a wide range of skin conditions. These include wounds, rashes, insect stings, swellings, eczema, acne, chickenpox, burns, sunburns, and cold sores.

Calendula can be harnessed in various ways to promote skin healing. For in-depth information, you can refer to our article on ‘The Topical Benefits of Calendula,’ which also offers tried-and-true recipes for creating your own infused oils, salves, and poultices. When utilizing calendula in medicinal preparations, ensure you use the whole flowers, as the healing oils are predominantly concentrated in the resinous green bases of the flower heads.

Internally, as a tea or tincture, calendula holds a time-honored reputation for bolstering the immune and lymphatic systems. Its blossoms, reminiscent of sunshine in every hue, gently elevate the spirits and provide a ray of hope during dark days. Furthermore, calendula serves as an effective remedy for digestive issues, making it particularly recommended for addressing heartburn, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), and peptic ulcers.

Precautions and Contraindications: Do not use calendula internally during pregnancy as it is an herbal emmenagogue. Because calendula is in the aster family, it may cause a rare allergic reaction in people who are highly sensitive to other Asteraceae plants like ragweed (Ambrosia spp.) and chamomile (Matricaria recutita).

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