Whether you’re very familiar with herbs or just getting started with them, you’re bound to make a mistake sometimes. There are so much information and misinformation available out there that it’s easy to commit these very common errors. Once you know about them, you can easily remedy them.
You Use Capsules for Your Herbs
Herbal remedies can be a great way to treat minor health issues or to support your immune system, but if you’re taking herbs in capsule form, you’re doing it wrong.
Some benefits from herbs come from the aromatherapy that comes from making tea or crushing them. The taste of bitter herbs can actually help with digestion. You miss these benefits if you take a capsule.
You’re Not Harvesting Enough
Herbs are plants that are meant to grow, flower, and go to seed, and then most of them will die off. It’s in your best interest to keep them in the growth stage for the maximum amount of time, which means you need to cut them back frequently.
Don’t just harvest a few leaves for your dinner . . . cut them back often and heavily to promote fresh new growth and bushier herbs.
You’re Watering Them All Wrong
Herbs have different needs when it comes to water, so if you plant a dry herb next to a water-loving herb, one of them isn’t going to thrive.
Another big issue is watering the leaves, which can cause mildew and other diseases. Stick to adding water into the soil around the plants for the best results.
You’re Taking too much Fenugreek
Fenugreek and other similar herbs boost estrogen levels. That may not sound too bad, but if you’re at risk for estrogens or hormonal cancers, like breast cancer or endometrial cancer, it may increase your risk of developing these.
You Use Adulterated Herbs
Of course, you would never use anything that was purposely not the highest quality. Unfortunately, if you purchase your herbs rather than grow them yourself, you run the risk of getting lower quality than you expect. Be sure to purchase only from a trusted supplier if you can’t grow or forage your own plants.
You’re Throwing Away Perfectly Good Plants
You may not realize it, but some of the weeds in your yard might be beneficial herbs. Unless you take the time to study them, you may end up discarding something that could help you out.
For example, dandelions are useful for treating renal health, but most people look at them as if they were just weeds.
Other plants that are commonly considered weeds include comfrey, plantain, chickweed, yarrow, and feverfew.
You Harvest Too Late
Most herb growers and foragers know to trim the plants back regularly so they don’t end up flowering. You may assume that this means your herbs are in top condition, but as the season comes closer to the end, your plants will actually drop in quality, so you should focus on harvesting before any plants start to drop leaves and look a little worse for wear.
You Use an Oven to Dry Herbs
An oven will certainly dry out your herbs when set to the lowest heat, but it also starts to cook them. You might flavor and reduce the amount of oil in the plants, which reduces flavor and efficacy in herbal remedies. It’s best to use a dehydrator or simply air dry them.
You Use Herbs According to Someone Else
We can all learn from other people, but when it comes to mixing herbs for a remedy, you need to be careful. Everyone is different and that means how you react to herbs will also be different. Back in the day, herbalists would mix according to the individual’s needs.
This is the best way to work with your body, by tailoring the herbs to how you react. Of course, this takes time and practice, but it’s worth knowing how things work for you.
You’re Breaking Stems
It’s not a good idea to break thicker stems off plants like rosemary, oregano, marjoram, etc. While the tender tips can be pinched off, you really need to use shears to cut thicker stems, especially if they’re woody.
You could easily tear the stem and cause more damage to the plant, as well as more open spaces where bacteria can get in.
You’re Planting Subpar Plants
Do you grow your herbs from seeds or purchase them from a nursery? It’s important that you start out with high-quality plants and drop any that seem weak and sickly from the start. Those ones won’t grow into what you need, so it’s best to focus on the healthiest plants. Even if it saddens you to skip the others.
You Crush Your Dried Herbs
It’s easier to store your herbs once they’re dried if you crush them and put them into glass containers, but this is actually not a great practice.
As soon as you crush your herbs, you release the oils and some of the potency is lost over time.
It’s best to leave them whole and crush just before using the herbs.
You Don’t Take Them Long Enough
If you’re using herbal remedies, remember that many herbs take time to really affect you. For example, if you’re treating your allergies, taking nettle over a period of weeks can help build up your body to resist allergies, but a single dose won’t do much to help you out. Make sure you know what herbs to use and whether they are long term or not.
You’re Not Using All Parts of the Plant
Not every herb can be utilized in full, but many can. If you only use the leaves or roots, you may be missing out on some excellent herbal remedies. Learn as much as you can about the herbs you use and you can find out what is possible and what parts can be used. Don’t throw away anything that you can use.
You’re Using the Wrong Preparation
Every herb reacts differently when prepared and it’s up to you to learn which methods are best for each plant. Some will be more powerful in tincture form, while others are best as a tea or even as a pomade. There are many ways to prepare your plants, so study up to figure out which method gives the best results for your particular needs.
Are you making any of these mistakes? If you’re serious about using the herbs, you definitely want to learn as much as possible about them and make sure you’re using each herb to the maximum effect.
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