Moth and Toad Apothecary

Herbalism, self-sufficiency, and low-waste living

Beginner Herbalist Study Plan: Month Three

Welcome back to my beginner herbalist study plan! This is month three, and will be the last month where we focus on learning the basics. After this, we will begin exploring individual herbs more deeply and learn how they work individually! This month involves foraging, seed saving, herb storage and preservation, and a deep dive into the digestive system! If you haven’t already completed months one and two, feel free to do so at your own pace! I hope these posts are helpful, and act as good guides for your very own journey into herbalism! 

If you’re interested in learning more about herbalism, consider checking out my other posts about using plants to make medicine; you can find them all here! Don’t forget to check back every week to see what I’ve added to this list! 

A quick note before the plan: I use affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase through one of these affiliate links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! This is a great way to support my blog and the continued output of these posts without spending an extra dime! Thank you so much for the support!

Here is the pdf version of this learning plan!

Month Three | Week One: Foraging Practices 

Journal Prompts for the Week

  1. Have you ever foraged in your local area? How did you do it, and what were some precautions or guidelines you may have followed when doing so?
  2. What do you know about native plants and invasive plants? 
  3. Have you ever saved seeds? If so, what was your experience like? If not, how do you think you would go about doing so?
  4. Do you feel that there is a spiritual connection between the plants you harvest and yourself? Why or why not? If you do, what are some ways you can thank them for their medicine? 
  5. If you owned a property with herbs growing on it, would you let others forage from it? Why or why not? What limits, if any, would you place on foragers? 

Topics to Research 

  • Foraging can be dangerous when safety isn’t at the forefront of your mind. Research how you can keep yourself safe when foraging. What kind of terrain is in your area, and how can you safely cross it? What dangers may be related to your land (ex: rockslides, caves, etc)? What predators may be in a wooded area that you should watch for? What type of clothing is best to wear when foraging to protect yourself from pests?  What kinds of PPE are useful for herbs like Stinging Nettle? How can you keep yourself from getting lost in new areas you forage from? What is the best way to identify herbs you don’t recognize, using the knowledge you gained last month? 
  • Ethical harvesting is important to the reproduction of native wildlife. When harvesting a wild native species, how much should you take in general? How much should be left? Are there local species you should not forage due to their endangered status?  
  • Ethical harvesting also applies to seed saving. What guidelines should you follow when saving seeds from native plants?  How can you help promote their success in their native soil?
  • Some parks are sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, and are too close to the road for foraging from. How can you find out what, if anything, a park uses to control plant growth? 
  • Many areas do not permit foraging, or limit the amount you are allowed to harvest. National parks, some city parks, and private property are good examples. How can you contact someone about respectfully foraging in these areas? 

Resources for Topics

Month Three | Week Two: Preserving and Storing Herbs 

Journal Prompts for the Week

  1. Have you ever tried to preserve herbs before? What did you do, and what was your experience like? If you haven’t, how do you think you’d go about doing it? 
  2. Picture how herbs are commonly sold in stores and in markets. What do you notice about their methods? Have you noticed better/worse quality herbs packaged in different ways?
  3. What kinds of herbs would you like to use fresh? How might you go about keeping them this way?
  4. What kinds of herbs would you prefer to have on hand as dried plant material?
  5.  What are some less obvious ways you might store, preserve, and protect your herbs? Ex: by canning them as a soup, salsa etc. 

Drying, Preserving, and Storing Herbs

  • Herbs can be dried in a multitude of ways, including air drying, dehydrating, and baking. Research each of them, their pros and cons, and what constitutes a quality dried herb. What visual cues can help you determine if an herb has been dried properly without losing too much medicine? How might these cues be useful when purchasing dried herbs?
  • Dried herbs have the advantage of staying good for a long time. How long should dried herbs be kept for? What are the optimal conditions for storing dried herbs?  
  • When drying herbs for tea, leaves and flowers are typically preserved due to their sweeter flavours. For medicinal teas, how might you incorporate other parts of the plant without sacrificing too much flavour? When might flavour be irrelevant? 
  • Research the processes used to freeze herbs, and the benefits of doing so. Freezing fresh herbs is a practical way to keep them good for a period of time. How long should you typically keep frozen herbs for? 
  • Herbs can be frozen in water or frozen alone. How might water be a beneficial way to freeze them? How might it be disadvantageous? How would you store frozen herbs? 
  • What herbs freeze the best? Which ones are less likely to do well when frozen? 
  • How long do fresh herbs keep in the fridge, on the counter, etc.? How can you quickly use up fresh herbs, or process them to use later? 
  • What is the difference between fresh herbs, dried herbs, and frozen herbs? Why might someone use one over the other in different situations?  
  • Storing herbs can be a hassle if you’ve never done it. How would you store herbs in a way that keeps them from being contaminated, oxidized, and away from light? 
  • If you were to buy herbs from a store or online shop, how would you go about doing so? 

Resources for Topics

Month Three | Weeks Three & Four: The Digestive System 

Journal Prompts 

  1. What connection do you have to your gut? Do you experience “butterflies” frequently, have chronic upsets, or feel well balanced? 
  2. What place do you think the digestive system has in herbalism? How might the food we eat contribute to our health overall, with or without herbal medicine?
  3. Do you view herbalism as a daily practice, or one that is utilized only after an issue arises? How might your stance on this affect how you view the digestive system in herbalism?  
  4. Think of a time when you’ve had a tummy ache, constipation, or another digestive system imbalance. How did you resolve it? Using what you know about herbs now, how might your approach differ in the future? 
  5. Many people neglect the delicate balance of gut flora in their bodies, leading to issues like anxiety and chronic stomach pain. How would you advise someone to support their gut if they asked you for help? 
  6. What are some signs that your gut is out of balance? 
  7. What are some signs your gut is happy and healthy?
  8. How can you ensure your digestive system stays healthy, happy, and balanced?
  9. Using what you have learned so far, create a plan for yourself to use if you ever have an issue with your digestive system. What would be your plan for something like a bad case of constipation? Diarrhea? A gallbladder attack?
  10. Now that you’ve learned a lot about your digestive system, do you think you will change any of your eating habits, or consume a certain herb more regularly? Why or why not? 

Topics to Research

  • Draw or print an illustration of the digestive system and label it. Keep it in your notes. 
  • What is the digestive system? What organs are a part of this system, and how do they function together?
  • What happens when an organ in the digestive system is imbalanced? How does a single issue lead to larger conditions and symptoms? 
  • What are some common concerns associated with the digestive system? How are they typically treated in allopathic medicine? What are some side effects of this kind of treatment, and side effects of not changing diet? 
  • What kinds of special diets exist for different conditions (ex: gluten free, dairy free, low sugar, low carb,  cholesterol reducing, etc.)? How do they impact a person’s digestive system for the better? How does tailoring a diet to a single person’s need help with their condition? 
  • How might an inflammatory diet lead to issues with the digestive tract? How can this be remedied, and what foods are useful for reducing inflammation overall? 
  • How does the pH of foods affect the digestive system? How does pH relate to the intestines and stomach?
  • What role does the gallbladder play in the digestive system’s ability to work efficiently? How does the removal of a gallbladder affect a person and their dietary needs/restrictions? 
  • What are some common herbs used to support the digestive system? How do they work for various conditions and symptoms? Which ones are good for long-term use for chronic conditions, and which are more useful in acute situations? Take detailed notes on each herb’s phytoconstituents associated with aiding the digestive system, their contraindications, and recommended uses. 
  • How might diets differ from person to person due to hormonal conditions, lifestyle, and physical activity? What are some effective ways people manage their diets and stay nutritionally healthy? 
  • What is the gut microbiome? Why is it essential to keep it healthy? What kinds of things throw off the microbiome in your gut, and how can you help it to heal?
  •  Write down vocabulary associated with the digestive system as you go along, and keep track of terms you see repeatedly. 

Resources for Topics 

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