Originally published May 9 2011
How to wildcraft your own herbs
by Donna Rae
(NaturalNews) Many people who are interested in natural and alternative health care want to become educated about the use of herbs as dietary supplements. Some take this interest further, and learn all they can about selecting the best herbs possible to make their own herbal preparations. Possibly the best herbs for any individual's needs are the herbs that grow in the local environment, and literally in one's own back yard. Harvesting one's own herbs from the local environment is called wildcrafting. Organic, wildcrafted herbs are possibly the best resources for herbs that can be obtained.
Why Wildcraft Your Own Herbs?
Wildcrafting your own herbs is probably best because you can be assured of the plant's freshness and potency. You know the herbs are organic. You know the exact location they came from. You have a good idea of the soil conditions in which the herb was grown. You know that the herbs were clean and free of debris when harvested because you are the person who cleaned them.
Another reason to wildcraft your own herbs is for a regular supply if there is ever a famine, an economic crisis, or even a commercial truck driver's strike, where shipping might become slowed for days or longer. In difficult and stressful times, immune systems become compromised and illnesses increase. Having your own, wildcrafted supply of herbs on hand prepares your family for emergencies.
How To Identify Herbs For Wildcrafting
One of the best resources available for identifying herbs and wild plants in any locality in the United States is the county extension office. Some states offer beautiful, picturesque websites full of photo images to help you identify various plants and "weeds." Most have brochures, handouts, and field guides which may be helpful to take on herb walks. Often attached to county extension offices are Master Gardener's clubs, which are run by volunteer plant enthusiasts. Some of these volunteers may be valuable resources as you learn how to identify and wildcraft your own herbs.
Another excellent resource for identifying herbs in the wild are books written by herbalists on the topic of foraging. Authors such as Stephen Harrod Buhner, Tom Brown, Jr., and Nancy J. Turner provide a wealth of information on the practice of foraging. When selecting resources, do your best to find material written for the area in which you live.
Drying and Storing Wildcrafted Herbs
The best time to wildcraft herbs is in the morning after the dew has dried or in the evening, in dry weather. Collect your wildcrafted herbs in carefully-labeled paper bags. It is very easy to get herbs confused, especially once they are dried. Clean the dirt and debris off of the plants once you get them home. You may dry your herbs outdoors in the shade, or indoors by making small bundles and hanging them upside down on a drying rack or from a cord or clothesline. Never dry herbs in direct sunlight, as they may lose some volatile oils in the process. Always label the herbs.
Dry the herbs until they crumble easily when touched. Storing herbs before they are completely dry can cause them to get moldy. Once your wildcrafted herbs are dry, store them in well-labeled glass jars with lids. They will last almost indefinitely if kept in a cool, dry place.
The School of Natural Healing.com, "Herbalist Home Study Course" http://www.snh.cc/Herbalist_Program.html
ESSM Extension Texas A & M University.edu, "Plants of Texas Rangelands: Viretual Herbarium" http://essmextension.tamu.edu/plantsdev/
Home.earthlink.net, "The Low Tech Library: Foraging" http://home.earthlink.net/~stormwatchproject...
Rewild.info, "Wildcrafting Herbs" http://www.rewild.info/fieldguide/index.php?...
About the authorDonna Rae is a freelance writer, blogger, and herbalist. She owns Donna Rae Online Writing Services (ANCHOR TEXT) , niche writing regularly in the alternative health care and education industries. Donna also owns Donna Rae At Home.com, a college prep home education website, and Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapies.com ANCHOR TEXT, a blog site dedicated to educating people new to using herbs and natural methods to improve health.
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