Can You Get Lemon Balm To Flower More Than Once Using Herbs Simply and Safely

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Using Herbs Simply and Safely

Are herbs “diluted forms of medicine” – and therefore dangerous? Or are they “natural” – and therefore safe? If you sell herbs, you probably hear these questions a lot. What is the “right” answer? It depends on the herb! These thoughts on herbs will help you explain to your clients (and yourself) how safe—or dangerous—any herb can be.

To avoid problems selling or using herbs:

  1. Make sure you have the right plant.
  2. Use simple ones.
  3. Understand that different preparations of the same herb may work differently.
  4. Use nutritious, tonic, stimulating and potentially toxic herbs wisely.


One of the easiest ways to get into trouble with an herb is to use the “wrong” one. How could this happen? Common names for herbs overlap, causing confusion as to the correct identity. Herbs that are properly labeled may contain foreign substances from other, more dangerous herbs. Herbs can be harvested at the wrong stage of growth or improperly handled after harvest, causing them to develop harmful properties.

Protect yourself and your customers with these simple steps:

  • Buy herbs only from verified suppliers.
  • Only buy herbs that are labeled with their botanical name. Botanical names are specific, but the same common names can refer to several different plants. “Marigold” is easy Calendula officinalismedicinal herb, or Tagetesannual used as a bedding plant.
  • If you grow herbs to sell, be careful to keep different plants separate when you harvest and dry them, and be obsessive about labeling.


It is simply one herb. For optimal safety, I prepare, buy, sell, teach and use herbal simples, that is: preparations that contain only one herb. (I’ll occasionally add some mint to flavor the medicine.)

The more herbs in a formula, the greater the likelihood of unwanted side effects. Understandably, the public is looking for combinations in the hope of getting more for less. And many mistakenly believe that herbs must be used together to be effective (probably because potentially toxic herbs are often combined with protective herbs to mitigate the harm they cause). However, combining herbs with the same properties, such as St. John’s wort and Echinacea, is counterproductive and more likely to cause problems than simply. A simple tincture of echinacea is more effective than any combination and much safer.

Different people have different reactions to substances, whether drugs, foods or herbs. When herbs are mixed in a formula and someone taking it has disturbing side effects, there is no way to determine which herb is the cause. Simple ones make it easy to figure out which plant does what. If side effects occur, you can try other herbs with similar properties. Limiting the number of herbs used in one day (to a maximum of four) offers additional protection.

Side effects from herbs are less common than drug side effects and usually less severe. If the herb interferes with digestion, the body may be learning to process it. Try a few more times before giving up. Stop taking herbs that cause nausea, dizziness, sharp stomach pain, diarrhea, headache, or blurred vision. (These effects usually occur very quickly.) Slippery elm is an excellent antidote for any type of poison.

If you are allergic to any food or medication, it is especially important to consult resources that list the side effects of herbs before use.


The safety of any herbal medicine depends on how it is prepared and used.

  • Tinctures and extracts they contain alkaloids or poisonous parts of plants and should be used with caution and wisdom. Tinctures are just as safe as the herb (see warnings below for tonic, stimulant, sedative, or potentially toxic herbs). Best used/sold as single, not in combination, especially when strong herbs are used.
  • Dried herbs prepared in teas or infusions contain the nutritional properties of plants and are usually quite safe, especially if nourishing or tonic herbs are used.
  • Dried herbs in capsules are generally the least effective way to use herbs. They are poorly digestible, poorly utilized, often outdated or ineffective, and quite expensive.
  • Infused herbal oils they are available as is or concentrated into ointments. They are much safer than essential oils, which are highly concentrated and can be deadly if taken internally.
  • Herbal vinegars they are not only decorative, but also rich in minerals. A good medium for nourishing and tonic herbs; not as strong as stimulant/sedative tinctures.
  • Herbal glycerins are available for those who prefer to avoid alcohol, but are usually less potent than tinctures.


Herbs comprise a group of thousands of plants with very different functions. Some are nutrients, some are tonics, some are stimulants and sedatives, and some are potential poisons. To use them wisely and well, we need to understand each category, its uses, the best preparation method, and the usual dosage range.

Nourishing herbs they are the safest of all herbs; side effects are rare. Nourishing herbs can be taken in any amount for any length of time. They are used as food, just like spinach and kale. Nutritious herbs provide high levels of protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenes and essential fatty acids.

Examples Nutritious herbs include: alfalfa, amaranth, astragalus, calendula flowers, chickpeas, comfrey leaves, dandelions, tripartite, linseed, fennel flowers, lamb’s quarter, marsh mallow, nettles, oat straw, plantain (leaves/seeds), purslane, flowers red clover, seaweed, Siberian ginseng, elderberry, violet leaves and wild mushrooms.

Tonic herbs they work slowly in the body and have a cumulative, rather than immediate, effect. They build the functional capacity of an organ (such as the liver) or system (such as the immune system). Tonic herbs are most beneficial when used in small amounts over a long period of time. The more bitter the tonic, the less you should take. Mild tonics can be used in large quantities, such as nourishing herbs.

Side effects occasionally occur with tonics, but they are usually quite short-lived. Many older herbalists mistakenly equated stimulant herbs with tonic herbs, leading to widespread abuse of many herbs and severe side effects.

Examples tonic herbs are: barberry bark, burdock root/seeds, burdock root, dandelion root, dandelion root, echinacea, wild echinacea, fennel, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, field horsetail, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, calendula seed thistle, thyme, mullein, pau d’arco, raspberry leaves, schisandra berries, St. John’s wort, turmeric root, usnea, wild yam and yellow dock.

Sedative and stimulating herbs causes various rapid reactions, some of which may be undesirable. Some parts of the person may be strained to help other parts. Strong sedatives and stimulants, whether herbal or medicinal, push us beyond our normal range of activity and can cause severe side effects. If we rely on them and then try to function without them, we become more agitated (or depressed) than before. Habitual use of strong sedatives and stimulants—whether opium, rhubarb root, cayenne pepper, or coffee—leads to loss of tone, dysfunction, and even physical dependence. The stronger the herb, the more moderate the dose and the shorter the duration of use.

Herbs that strengthen and nourish while soothing/stimulating are some of my favorite herbs. I use them freely as they are not addictive. Soothing/stimulating herbs that also tone or nourish: bone spur, catnip, citrus peel, emperor, ginger, hops, lavender, marjoram, thyme, oat straw, passion fruit, peppermint, rosemary, sage, clary sage.

Strong sedative/stimulant herbs include: angelica, black pepper, thistle root, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, licorice, opium poppy, osha root, shepherd’s purse, sweet tree, turkey rhubarb root, uva ursu leaf, valerian root , wild lettuce juice, willow bark and wintergreen leaves.

Potentially toxic herbs are intense, powerful medicines that are taken in small amounts and only for as long as needed. Side effects are common.

Examples among the potentially poisonous herbs are: belladonna, bloodwort, celandine, chaparral, foxglove, goldenrod, henbane, iris root, apples, lobelia, May apple (American mandrake), mistletoe, poke root, poison hemlock, stillingia root, turkey. root, wild cucumber root.

Additionally, consider these thoughts about using herbs safely:

  • Respect the power of plants to transform body and mind in dramatic ways.
  • Increase confidence in the healing power of plants by testing remedies for minor or external problems before or while working with larger and internal problems.
  • Develop lasting relationships with qualified healers—in person or through books—who are interested in herbal medicine.
  • Respect the uniqueness of each plant, each person, each situation.
  • Remember that each person becomes whole and healed in their own unique way, at their own pace. Humans, plants and animals can help in this process. But it is the body/spirit that heals. Don’t expect plants to cure everything.

Legal disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical care. All suggestions and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal instructions and use must be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified health professional with a special formula for you. All material in this document is provided for general information only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. If you need medical care, please contact a reputable health care professional. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second opinion.

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