why herbalism is inherently anti-fad

Goldenrod blooming in the September sun…

Goldenrod blooming in the September sun…

At first glance, herbalism (and the "alternative" healthcare industry) may seem to be rife with fads. 

And it is. Right now we've got CBD and essential oils. A few years back it was Goji Berries, Ancient Grains™, and Golden Milk. I have no idea what it will be next, but I secretly hope/expect that at some point Chamomile will be the next Lavender-Early Grey in the world of baked delights. (If you start this trend I expect you to send me some.)

Health fads seem to follow a similar trajectory: they take something that has a foundation of truth, expand that truth to make very large claims, develop products and experts that can capitalize on the public hope & curiosity, and then the trend fades as folks realize that it's not as effective, cure-all-able, or financially sustainable as they had been told. 

This isn't really all that harmful, so long as the products themselves aren't harmful. At worst, people waste money and their faith in alternative healing is chipped away. At best, their minds are opened to new possibilities and they get some benefits from whatever the fad was. 

But I bet you don't want to waste your time and money on expensive health fads that make huge claims. 

The good news is, a solid foundation in herbalism can make you immune to fads. Here's how:

Herbalism is an ancient practice, rooted in thousands of years of tradition & knowledge. 

Herbalism did not spring to the public eye after the most recent episode of Dr. Oz. It has been here as long as humans have, evolving along with us the entire time. As herbalists, when we're presented with a new therapeutic use of an herb, we first look to the tradition: how was this herb used by peoples native to the place where it grows? Does their tradition corroborate this?The herbal tradition is ancient, strong, and proven by thousands of years of experience and practice. When you have an array of hundreds of healing herbs to work with, you don't need to adopt the latest fad. 

Herbalism is the medicine of the people. It doesn't have to be expensive.

Herbalism can be expensive, if you're regularly consulting with a clinical herbalist and buying a lot of tinctures. That adds up. But the beauty with herbalism is that it doesn't have to be expensive.

You can forage & grow herbs, infuse them in water, and use herbal teas as your main source of medicine. You can take a few herbal classes, learn the basics of medicine-making, and make your own remedies. When you know this, you realize that you don't have to spend oodles of money on fancy new products. You can make it yourself for much less. 

Herbalism looks at what's around us, what's readily available, and works from there. 

Many fads are rooted in our fascination with the exotic. When there's a "new" herb that comes from a distant country or deep in the rainforest, we're convinced it must be more potent, more magical, than the herbs growing in the median on our daily commute. 

As herbalists, we know that's simply not true. We know that there are medicinally potent plants growing in every crevice of the globe. You may even focus your herbal practice on bioregional or locally-grown herbs, feeling that they are more vibrationally aligned with your body. 

Which brings us nicely to a plant that's highly medicinal, readily available, and free to forage:


Yep, it's goldenrod season. The plants are in full bloom, and no, they are not causing your seasonal allergies (blame those on ragweed). 

Goldenrod is an abundant wild plant with a plethora of uses for the kidneys, urinary tract, digestive tract, and more. Get this -- it even contains more antioxidants than green tea! 

I'm really in love with goldenrod. Not only is it delicious in a uniquely autumnal way, it's a larval host to over 200 hundred species of moths and butterflies, it's super medicinal, and it can be free to harvest. 

That's why I'm finishing up the Plant Allies Series with two classes on Goldenrod, one on Saturday and one next Monday

Tips for harvesting goldenrod:

  • As always when foraging, make sure that the area has not been sprayed.

  • Ask the plant for permission, and bring an offering of gratitude.

  • Harvest the flowering tops: the flowers, plus a few inches of leaves.

  • Dry in a warm, dark place.

  • The flowers will fade when exposed to light. For this reason, I recommend drying goldenrod in a brown paper bag or a windowless space.

  • Once crispy-dry, store in a jar in a dark place.

  • Enjoy tea throughout the winter!

Have fun harvesting goldenrod. Tell all your friends about it. Who knows, it might become the next fad ;)