This was an idea I put forth to my student group, and it was met with so much enthusiasm, I decided to go ahead and set it up. The only questions were, how hard to make this? I have students of all levels in my course, from total beginners to a couple of veterinarians already working with Chinese Medicine and wishing to learn more about the Western approach. So it seemed that one single Challenge would be bound to be either too easy or too difficult for some students. Hence I’ve decided to give you three options, basically three Challenges and you can pick the one you think is right for you.
Entry Level Challenge: Pick one herb per week study it, write a monograph(simple) and use the herb in at least two ways. Culinary herbs are fine to use, and you can use the herb with your dog, but at least one of the two uses should be your own.
EXAMPLES: Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) First, write the monograph (I can show you what that entails), read at least 3 different author’s observations, and then make a tea, steam inhalation, or tincture with thyme. Write up your observations, why you chose to use the herb the way you did, what effect it had (if you noticed any) and what you might use it for in future.If you use it only for yourself, write up how you think it could be used for dogs as well. Basically, you spend the week with thyme – and then move on to the next herb.
Mid-level Challenge: Pick 30 herbs that interest you, and learn at least one new thing, OR use them in a new way, per day.
Example: Monday: Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale) ” pulled three leaves from the garden, ate one and brewed the other two into a tea.
Taste: very refreshing in tea, somewhat bitter eaten fresh”
Tuesday: Rosemary(Rosmarinus officinalis) ” have used in cooking, today made a vinegar “(apple cider, dried rosemary, give amounts)
Wednesday:” Interested in Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), have never used. Learned that it is an adaptogen, which means it can help the body adapt to stress. Should be taken on a regular basis” ( give dose and method).
Thursday: Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) –”have used the essential oil in past, today added a quarter teaspoon dried herb to my Earl Grey tea. Found the flavour yery interesting..”(fill in any physiological reactions)
Friday: “Made Turmeric (Curcuma longa) paste to keep in fridge and add to sandwiches, soups etc.” (describe recipe)
There is no limit to what you can write up about each herb, but there must be EITHER a new use for a familiar herb, or a bit about a totally new herb you want to know more about.
Please use the Latin binomial, as this is foundational knowledge and always the sign of a good herbalist! NOTE:this isn’t necessarily harder than the first Challenge, but it will involve more time/energy, usually.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) perhaps one of the most readily identified wild medicinal plants, with it’s towering spires of yellow flowers and soft, rosette of fuzzy leaves – but it’s always of the utmost importance to make a 100% ID before ingesting any wild plant.
Advanced Challenge: Same as above but must be limited to local herbs, and 15 of them you need to make an identification in the wild. Good choices here include Plantain(Plantago spp), Dandelion(Taraxacum officinale), Yarrow (Alchillea millefolium) St.John’s wort(Hypericum perforatum) Violets (Viola odorata, other spp) , Mugwort(Artemisia vulgaris) Burdock(Arctium lappa) , Chickweed (Stellaria media) Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and Cleaver’s(Galium aparine). Ask me for resources to help with correct ID in your area.
You can also do this just for fun and learning, or you can write it all up and send in to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will pick a winner on the day the course launches, and you can have a choice of prizes; an online herbal consult with me(for you or your dog) a basket of my own home made goodies (for dogs and people) or a phone consult on any topic relating to herbs, for yourself or your dog.
Now have fun! I’m so looking forward to your participation and discoveries.