I first became fascinated by the idea of homegrown, natural medicine a couple of years ago when I learned it was even a thing. Growing simple herbs--like spearmint, lemon balm, catnip, chamomile--in a small kitchen garden, and then transforming them into herbal teas and tinctures that can heal common ailments seemed revolutionary to me. Of course, mothers have been growing and transforming kitchen herbs for centuries to heal and comfort and soothe, but somehow all of that wisdom--that deep understanding of the earth and its natural cures--has been lost in the last century as mothers began to rely more on factories than farms.
This maddens me. While I am ecstatic to now be learning about herbs and their healing properties and watching them grow and flourish in my tiny garden, I can't help but be frustrated that I have to learn all of this from scratch, from books and websites, when my ancestors would have possessed this primal knowledge and passed it along effortlessly to their children. The Industrial Revolution led to many conveniences and life-saving technologies, but it also unfortunately destroyed much of our connection with nature and earth, instinct and maternal wisdom.
Still, it is deeply satisfying to be able to reclaim this folk wisdom and regain these heirloom skills that sustained generations of families. It is even more satisfying to be able to have my daughter at my side, watching me learn and read and try, knowing that she will grow up with these skills and this knowledge to pass along to her own children, should she choose.
There is something powerful and uplifting about reconnecting with the natural world and all its wonders--about reconnecting with the past and sharing it with the future.
My favorite books for an introduction to homemade herbal remedies are Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide, by Rosemary Gladstar, and (for children), Walking the World in Wonder: A Children's Herbal, by Ellen Evert Hopman.