How to Identify an Herbalist

We’re an odd breed, aren’t we?  Alas, you can’t easily identify an herbalist with Newcomb’s or even with Gleason and Cronquist’s.  Here are my top 15 signs that you might be an herbalist:

  1. There is at least one bottle of unidentified tincture in your cabinet.  You were certain you’d never forget what was in there, weren’t you? And now you can’t bear to waste whatever it may be.
  2. You have a strong opinion regarding whether Felcos are the best brand of clippers. You also own and frequently discuss things like loppers and a hori hori.
  3. You feel naked and unsettled when out on a walk without a plant ID guide. But it’s the best way to ensure that you cover more than 1/8 mile per hour.
    an herb "walk"

    This is a standard herb “walk.” You know it’s true.

  4. You have ever been genuinely angered by one or more of the following:
    1. Cheap, bland grocery store chamomile tea
    2. Sports drinks that contain Panax ginseng
    3. People who don’t understand the difference between a constituent and a plant
    4. Someone telling you that Echinacea is dangerous if you take it for more than 2 weeks.
  5. You’ll happily spend hours discussing things like the merits of topical application of hydrolysable tannin-rich plants and the indications for aromatic bitters.
  6. You’ve destroyed one or more of the following in your harvesting and medicine-making adventures:
    1. A blender or coffee grinder
    2. A pot or pan
    3. Clippers
    4. Shovel or other digging implement
      Let's face it: you should have gotten a VitaMix first

      Let’s face it: you should have gotten a VitaMix first

  7. You no longer feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable asking people about their bowel movements. There’s so much more to it than the Bristol Stool Chart.
  8. People regularly break into song and/or dance when you attend professional conferences. And nary a suit nor tie to be found.
  9. Your dog/cat/goldfish/child has caught on to your wily ways and hides whenever he sees you coming with a brown bottle of a certain size.
    You CAN'T MAKE ME open  my mouth.

    You CAN’T MAKE ME open my mouth.

  10. You feel guilty when you weed your garden and don’t use or eat the weeds. Hide the evidence, quickly.
  11. You really, honestly forget that most people think decoctions taste disgusting. Wait, you don’t love my dandelion burdock chai?
  12. Your children know plants by their scientific names and consider it normal to much on edibles when you’re out for a hike. Yes, the other parents think you’re crazy.
  13. All you want for Christmas/Hanukkah/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day or any other holiday are books. Books, books and more books. Moving day is something of a fiasco, but you never can bring yourself to get rid of any of them.
    But that's the one i had with me when I first identified Prunella 15 years ago...

    But that’s the one i had with me when I first identified Prunella 15 years ago…

  14. You’ve ever insisted that someone pull the car over because you’re sure you’ve just seen Asclepias tuberosa along the roadside. We won’t ask whether you were correct or not.
    ahem

    ahem

  15. You’ve spent an inordinate amount of time planning which ten herbs you’d take to a desert island if forced to choose. Probably unsuccessfully, if I know herbalists. Who can choose favorites? Matricaria is on there, though. Isn’t it?

Got any others? I’m sure there are more. Leave yours in the comments 🙂

Camille

Hi there. I'm Camille. I'm an associate professor at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology and pathophysiology. I'm also a licensed nutritionist, specializing in fertility and reproductive health. (I'm not taking any new clients!) Lastly but not leastly, I'm a mom, a gardener and a really horrible housekeeper.

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