WHY USE HERBS?
There are many reasons people decide to use herbs. Information is plentiful. Reference books provide details of plant properties and usage. There are also excellent teachers and practitioners whose experience gives you insight into particular applications or methods. This accessibility opens the door for some to practice self care with plant medicine. Many plants in a person's location have medicinal uses and the curious will seek them out, learn about their growing environments and uses. Some people believe that they experience fewer, if any, side effects from herbs. Sometimes the reason is as simple as herbs having pronounceable names. Or a particular flavor – Lemon Balm makes a refreshing ice tea while also providing digestive support. Whether seeking the assistance of an herbalist or traditional healer or self exploration, there are probably endless possibilities of uses.
Learning about herbs is a process. As fully as anyone can describe an herb, we can rarely identify a particular 'thing' about it that explains its particular effect when ingested, inhaled or applied to the skin. This is the complexity and beauty of herbs. A person does not have a single attribute, neither does an herb.
There are numerous traditions for how to use herbs. Some people choose to use single herbs. For example, western traditions use Nettle Leaf as a Spring tonic, restoring the blood and detoxifying the liver. Other cultures combine herbs. Nettle with Rosemary and Chamomile might be used to address damp lung conditions and allergies. As a salve ingredient it might be used for burns and bites. Sometimes herbs are even employed for difficult chronic conditions such as blood heat, an inflammatory process which is often cited as underlying to many common chronic health conditions.
The first book I ever read on herbs and animal care was the classic, Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. I had goats at the time. From foot abscesses to digestive ailments, she has dependable and simple advice. Animals, likely all of them, benefit from eating plants. Wild animals exercise self care in what plants they selectively eat. Closer to home, goats have a reputation for eating anything and yet, if you have ever watched a goat graze, she will pick and choose which plants to eat. Our four legged housemates respond to herbs just as readily. Cats' affinity for Catnip is not the only herb that can benefit them. Our dog enjoys a snack of quack grass in the summer months. Many other plants benefit them as well.
Humans' lifestyles can sometimes adversely affect companion animals' health. They eat what we feed them. We may keep them indoors. They accommodate our schedules. A cat, preferring to be an only who lives with other four leggeds, may experience stress which often manifests as health issues. Whatever the factors are in a particular situation, imbalance may happen. Herbs potentially play a role in regaining and maintaining a healthy balance for our animal friends.