My Herbal Awakening
by Janice Williams-Taylor, Jamaica, West Indies
Janice’s entry gives such a simple perspective on taking a childhood interest, developing that interest, and applying it to herself and her family life. Beautifically written, it reads like an extract from her autobiography and paints a simple word picture of the reasons for her studying with us and why she chose to study herbalism. You can almost see her dog, taste the ‘special tea’, and watch Janice selecting herbs. Her students are lucky to have her as their teacher. We can’t wait for the next installment!!
“God sleeps in the minerals, awakens in plants, walks in animals and thinks in man.” Arthur Young
Herbalism is the study and use of plants to promote wellness. It is also the first course of study which I decided to enrol for in the School of Natural Health Sciences (SNHS).
I always had a love of plants which was evident in me always trying to start and maintain a garden from childhood. I would plant flowers, vegetables and even fruit trees which showed great variety and innovation as space was oftentimes a limitation.
This love was encouraged by my mother who also loved plants and would often talk about the healing powers of plants which my siblings and I would experience whenever we were afflicted by various ailments. She would often give us these home remedies while informing us that the medicines prescribed by the doctors were extracted from these same plants.
My husband introduced me to the School of Natural Health Sciences (SNHS) and encouraged me to enrol as he had enjoyed good success and gained tremendous knowledge from the various courses he had completed. I decided to try the Introduction to Herbalism, for which he promptly paid. The choice was borne out of a desire to learn more about the healing powers of herbs, especially to better utilise the many indigenous herbs of our island which many have overlooked in our ‘modern’ time.
I have gained tremendous insight into the wonderful world of herbs since studying Herbalism with the School of Natural Health Sciences (SNHS). Familiar herbs now take on new identities and unfamiliar herbs provide additional stimulation. Walking now takes on new meaning, as plants which were once perceived as weeds are now realised for their true potential. I remember walking home from church one Sunday afternoon and recognising Milkweed growing close to the sidewalk of one of my neighbours’ houses. I was so excited, I had to share the discovery with my husband, and he listened with rapt attention as I explained to him the curative powers of the Milkweed. I had seen that plant so many times being pulled up and thrown on the ‘weed pile’ to be burnt, and had no idea that it was so useful until studying Herbalism with the School of Natural Health Sciences(SNHS). It is interesting to note that the plant which is called milkweed in Jamaica is not the same milkweed found in other places but the use is the same. That is, it is effective in the treatment of kidney problems, stomach spasms and other intestinal ailments.
Now every walk is a new experience, and all plants are viewed with awe. The Law of Signatures is applied, samples are taken and, best of all, applying these herbs to my healing and wellness has proven to be satisfying and successful.
Being a visual learner, as I read the lessons on the different herbs, I would search to find pictures of the herbs to enhance my understanding and make the lesson more interesting and applicable. This is what has enabled me to be able to easily identify the herbs referenced in my studies. In addition, as I am a High School Biology and Chemistry teacher, I can apply my biological and chemical knowledge to my study of herbs. When I research on the different herbs, their scientific name and full classification is noted, the chemical compounds which provide the curative powers are better understood and explained. This in-depth knowledge makes the use of the herbs more acceptable to individuals whom I would now recommend in their use.
This is the other exciting aspect of pursuing the study of herbs with the School of Natural Health Sciences (SNHS). I now recommend these herbs to my family and associates. Tinctures, teas and decoctions are shared, accepted and appreciated.
Many also enjoy the curative powers while enjoying meals which have been infused with these herbs. My mother in law recently came for dinner, and begged to know the secret ingredient for my herb infused chicken. It was no secret; it was just the robust flavour of rosemary. Passion flower flavoured ice tea, with orange peel and cinnamon, is now enjoyed as a cooling summer favourite. My husband and I make various oils to be used for massage, ear drops etc. Even the pets are now benefitting from the study of herbs as they are also given herbal remedies for various ailments from which they recover.
I noticed recently that one of the dogs who was suffering from an inflammation in his paw began to eat leaves from one of the plants at the front of the yard-Ixora. I quietly watched him, as he searched for the younger, lighter green leaves, disregarding the older greener leaves. This sparked my curiosity, so I investigated the medicinal properties of this plant and found that indeed it was used in the treatment of inflammation. Wow! I had an ‘aha’moment. I was in awe yet again; the plants never cease to amaze me! I had bought these flowering plants just for their aesthetic appeal, now I had a new appreciation for the Ixora. All this time, right under my nose!
I am really glad that my husband encouraged me to sign up for the Herbalism course. It has proven to be an inspiration for me and others with which I share my new found knowledge. My associates and family are also benefitting from the application of the healing powers of herbs.
In fact, the introductory course has inspired me to learn so much more that I am presently completing the Advanced Herbalism Course. I am not yet an official practicing herbalist, but as I continue to hone and share my knowledge and skills, I move closer to my dream of having a successful herbalist practice, recognised not only in Jamaica, but worldwide.
SNHS Dip. (Herbalism)
Studying: Advanced Herbalism