You use the power of plants for healing, or just to add pleasure to your life, more than you think. You probably enjoy iced black tea (camellia sinensis) or morning coffee (coffea arabica). The food you enjoy daily is flavored with spices (garlic, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon- all anti-microbial to one degree or another, all aid in digestion) and if you cook at home you have a rack with your favorite spices (AKA herbs) to cook with. Until I started studying herbalism I didn't think of how creative you can get with using herbs as preventatives, digestive aids, and even weight-loss aids when you make your daily favorites. You can steep tea leaves to replace the liquid in any recipe to add nutrition (especially good with a root for a soup), you can carbonate your tea and make an tasty medicine herb soda, you can add herbs to your coffee filter or french press when you make coffee or perhaps make a hibiscus simple syrup you add to all of your teas for an herb boost. The flexibility and creativity excites the hell out of this nerdy hippie!
The following herbs are my current go-tos and favorites to spice up meals, smoothies, teas, infused oils, skin care products, and tinctures. Every herb has multiple uses, they're all nutritious with some anti-microbial qualities to one degree or another, so they will overlap. All the vitamin C herbs are immune boosting and amazing beautifiers because Vitamin C repairs skin, for instance, but I grouped them as best I could for easy reading. Give some of these herbs a try if anything, or the sake of taste and experimentation.
Peppermint: Uplifting/energizing scent. Make a tea or tincture for all digestive issues. Great taste.
Sassafras: Long-used to make root beer! Make a delicious digestion aiding soda, tea, or soup.
Burdock Root: A delicious base for your soups or stir fries. Nutritious.
Dandelion Root/Leaf: Make a tea or tincture to aid digestion.
Fennel: None better for gas. And delicious! Absolutely makes a vegan "sausage" type dish.
Ginger: Delicious digestive aid, I love the powder for food and the root for tea.
Chicory: The-best no-caffeine coffee substitute (used to imitate taste). Nutritious, digestive aid.
Rose Hips: Vitamin C powerhouse, I use it in mixed teas for vitamins and the tangy/sweet flavor.
Hibiscus: Another Vitamin C booster I use for taste. The flower's tea tastes/looks like Kool-Aid!
Orange Peel Powder: Rich in Vitamin C and DELICIOUS! I love this for cooking.
Echinacea: Make a tea or soup during cold season to strengthen immune system.
Sage: Add to meals during cold season for an anti-bug boost. Very anti-microbial. Nice tea, too.
Elderberry: Try my cold-syrup! Immune boosting, delicious as a tea.
Nutritious (Minerals, Iron, Chlorophyl)
Horsetail: Tincture or tea for the iron and silica boost. Beautifying for nails/skin/hair.
Oatstraw: Another iron/mineral rich grass for tincture or tea. Beautifying for nails/skin/hair.
Red Raspberry: Helps balance hormones. Take one week leading up to period. Mineral rich.
Alfalfa: Yet another nutritious, iron-rich grass. Beautifying for nails/skin/hair.
Stevia Leaf: Has nutrition, but I mostly steep this with my teas for sweetness. A pinch will do!
Catnip: A calming and tasty mild nervine.
Chamomile: Calming, amazing in an infused oil for skin, nutritious. Will increase appetite.
Passionflower: Only if you want to knock yourself out, potent nervine.
Valerian: You'll sleep soundly and quickly, again, will knock you out! Warning: stinky. Take pills.
Lavender: Anti-microbial. No better infused oil for burns. Amazing for skin issues.
Rose: I love an infused rose oil for healing and repairing skin. Experiment, it's tasty in tea.
Calendula: A super skin healer, a must for skin care products. Great infused oil and tea.
Comfrey: Try as a tea or make an infused oil. Heals skin/tissue.
Aloe: Aids digestion, hydrates, heals skin.
Rosemary: Anti-bacterial, fresh and energizing smell. Good for wound-healing.
Beet Root Powder: I add this to smoothies, very iron-rich and the sugar makes it energizing.
Ginko: Adaptogenic (helps your body cope with stress) and energizing. Make a tea or soup base.
Bee Pollen: Nutritious, immune boosting, and energizing. Try it in a smoothie.
Arnica: Never to be ingested! Numbs pain as an oil or lotion. Aids hair growth, too.
Turmeric: Extreme anti-inflammatory, aiding in pain relief. Delicious!
Cayenne: A tasty spice (I load my food up), stimulates circulation, helps with pain.
Black Pepper: Like cayenne, stimulates circulation and helps with pain.
Cramp Bark: Try one week prior to your period to help reduce cramps.
Saw Palmetto: Great for UTIs, prevention and healing.
Corn Silk: Save the silk from your corn this season! Amazing for urinary health.
Witch Hazel: Mild pain reliever, good anti-microbial for healing skin wounds, too.
I could go, but these are some good basic ones to keep on-hand for your common ails, or just for taste and pleasure. Of course, feel free to e-mail me if you have questions about any specific treatments. Always check with a doctor before you try any herbs for healing serious illnesses, and especially double check if you're able to take any herb if you're pregnant! I've already had some people e-mail me about making custom herbal remedies (lotions, balms, teas, herbal pills, etc.) and I would absolutely love to do that for anyone reading! For everyone who asks for help, I do recommend, first and foremost, a look at nutrition, because drinking enough water and eating enough fruits and vegetables are the absolute foundation of good health. No herbs, supplements, vitamins, or minerals are a substitute for starting off with nutrient rich food! Furthermore, herbs are best taken as preventatives, and they slowly heal you over time with consistent use. It takes a little bit to see a difference when you do anything the right way.
I also have detailed e-books coming on all kinds of natural care, aromatherapy, herbalism, etc. I've been researching and scribbling in notebooks like crazy for them! Expect some tea mixes and herbal recipes (diy conditioner, focus tea, skin/hair tea, and diy gel are coming) soon, too.
If you don't have health food stores near you, try Bulk Apothecary to order high quality herbs. Locally, Green Lotus Studios (where I work and go to school) and Southern Roots (pictured in this post) has herbs available to buy by the ounce.