Wednesday, November 8, 2006

How did I get here and how can you?

I receive a lot of email from my readers...and I try to answer each one. I get a lot of the same questions over and over... so I have decided to start answering the more common questions in my blog in the hopes of saving some time....which is what I lack the most!

Recently, I received the following question:

Dear Cheri,

Hello! I am an avid reader of your blog, even though I do not post often. I know you are a busy lady, but if you have a spare moment, could you please answer a few questions for me?

I was wondering how you came to such a vast knowledge of herbs, etc? Did you just read or did you take some courses or did you just read books? I understand your not wanting to give out recipes, etc. Please know I am not asking for that! I would just like advice on how to become well-versed in herbs and their uses. What would you suggest? Any books, websites?

I have the GI Bill to use, but am running into problems with herbal programs as they are not what you call traditional programs of education. Usually, the GI Bill won't cover 100% and we do not have the money to pay for courses for me to learn about herbs! The one place I found that does all online courses (Australasian College of Health Sciences) will only reimburse 55% of course costs. For a one-income family, that just doesn't work.

I hope I am making sense! I have three little guys in the background that I need to go tend to. :) (You know how that is, right?? ;) Take care and God bless.

First of all, I definitely would not consider my knowledge of herbs "vast". In fact, the longer I study and the more I learn the more inadequate I feel - I also don't seem to retain the knowledge that I gain quite as well as I did a long time ago (have to remember to drink my Remember Me Tea!). But let me share with you how I got where I am....

I started having an interest in herbs after the birth of my first child (over 24 years ago!). I knew by this time, from my own experience, that doctors don't always have all the answers. So....I began to read about alternatives and to ask other Moms what they did. This was before the days of a computer and internet hook-up in every home so I spent time at the library with my nose in books and magazines. I loved to go to bookstores and peruse the shelves...I went to herb shops and began to glean what I could. I had to do a lot of a Christian I began to see that the enemy had truly taken control of this industry. I learned to "eat the meat and spit out the bones".

At the time, I bought herbal remedies produced by companies. As the years passed, I was able to slowly purchase herb books - used book stores are a wonderful resource for this! I read as much as I could and began to apply it to our lives. I studied the things that were pertinent to my own family. As more pregnancies and more children came along, I had the "opportunity" to study new and different situations and I also learned that where one herb might work for some of the children it didn't necessarily work for all. This taught me to study further and to be patient until I found what worked. It might be a different herb or a combination of herbs. I also studied labels of "formulas" sold in the stores....I still do this today....whether it is a food item, medicinal tea or tincture....I am always interested in making it myself if possible.

I spent many years studying on my own and collecting books. Friends saw that my children rarely went to the doctor and they began to ask me how I treated this or that in my own family...then they began to ask me about situations that they faced in their families....which required me to study and learn about new and different herbs. I began to order in herbs and make some of my own medicinal remedies. I also began to grow a few in my garden.

I had a strong desire for a more formal education in this area (still do!) but had trouble finding courses that didn't require me to sit in an Indian Sweat Lodge and mutter chants to a false god or other nonsense! Many years ago I had the opportunity to take some formal wasn't the best situation. The person had claimed to be a medical doctor and a Christian. As I went further into the classses, I could see that neither of these were probably true - this person was steeped in Native American spiritual teachings - completely at odds with the Word of God. I had good reason to doubt the "doctor" label too. I began to see that some of their teachings on herbs weren't completely accurate. But God used this situation for good (Romans 8:28 in action!). Because I couldn't "trust" my teacher, it compelled me to check everything for myself....I studied harder than I ever have...I had a deadline to meet before class each week. I learned more during that year of classes...not from my teacher....but because I was motivated to study hard. I began growing more and more herbs myself....they are so easy to grow and it saved so much money.

I began to take some correspondence courses - again, nothing I could recommend because of all the new age garbage. I have heard that there is a course taught by a Christian woman - I checked it is expensive. I have written to her twice to ask about her credentials...before I pay that much for a course I want to know about the education/experience of the one who is teaching it. I am disappointed that I have never received an answer...this makes me wonder about the course itself. I don't find it necessary for someone to have a lot of letters after their name (I certainly don't have them!) but I would like to know about their experience before I spend hundreds of dollars!

Now for the most important question - how do you become well-versed in herbal knowledge? Start reading....get 1 or 2 books on basic herbal knowledge and get to know them well. And most importantly...start using them! Grow some calendula, even if it is in a flower pot, and harvest the petals and then read what you can do with them and it! Wildcraft some red clover or mullein and make teas or salves or tinctures! Start with your health issues that you deal with the most and look for herbal solutions - go slow...learn as much as you can about that issue before you go to the next one. Grow the herbs...or even order them in (organic of course!) and begin to work with them.

Set a goal for yourself - I think a reasonable goal is to learn about 10 common herbs in a year. Each year add to that...I am still adding herbs - both to my garden and to my base of knowledge. The medicinal class that I teach on the farm covers 10 common herbs - it is a lot to cover and sometimes people feel overwhelmed. It is not possible to learn about those herbs in depth in an afternoon but we touch on each one and make something from almost all of them - I encourage people to spend the next few months studying and getting very familiar with those 10 herbs before moving on to more. I am still trying to get this course uploaded as an ebook but keep loosing the pictures in the process - please be patient with my lack of computer skills!

Lastly, remember that it took me a long time to get most likely isn't going to happen overnight for you patient with yourself.... study hard...use the herbs and know that you will reap many benefits from this journey! The most important being that His creation shouts of His wisdom, of His love for us, and of His provision for our well-being and health. He is truly revealed and glorified by His creation...after almost 25 years I am still awestruck and amazed as I learn new things...and I am truly humbled that one so unworthy as myself is loved by such a God!


  1. Great post! I admit to feeling overwhelmed whenever I try to read up on healing herbs. I grew quite a few different kinds this summer, and now I need to learn how to use them! Looking forward to your ebook as well.

  2. Thanks is wonderful that you grew some - learn to use those and then plant some more next summer! I'm working on the book!

  3. There's so much to learn!! Great post! It is an ongoing course isn't it!

    You're right about reading, growing and using them. The more you start incorporating them into your life, the more you learn. Making goals to learn one more is always a great step!

    Looking forward to your ebook.


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