Herbal tinctures, pills, syrups, and more are widely used, and quite easily available. In fact, I’d venture to guess that most people I know have tried an herbal remedy at one time or another.
The use of herbs and natural remedies is so fascinating to me. Over the years I’ve done three different Family Herbalist courses and I’ve lost count of how many intensive essential oils classes I’ve taken. Honestly, I blame it on my midwife….she handed me my first herbal book by Shonda Parker when I was expecting my first baby at 18 years old.
For years I used herbal concoctions with hit-and-miss results. Sometimes they worked beautifully, and other times it seemed like I might as well be taking capsules full of water. I would scratch my head in frustration…
Then I learned something that connected the dots for me.
There is more to plants and herbs than what you can see. In fact, what you can smell is a potent healing portion of herbs as well. Plants in general are made up of large and small molecules. The larger molecules are those that end up in herbal tinctures, pills, and syrups, with some residual smaller molecules. However, the “lifeblood” of the plant is the volatile lipid, or what we call essential oil. These molecules are very, very small which enables them to perform in ways that herbs cannot–and vice versa!
So I ask again; Are herbs better than essential oils? Or are essential oils preferable to herbs?
The answer is that both are equally important because they cannot really be compared. They actually serve the body differently. Since adding essential oils to my health cabinet, I’ve discovered the healing power of the whole plant.
I will give you a practical example from my experience. Let’s say my family has a cold. I have several options, (plant-wise–we are not getting into homeopathy, vitamins, etc..) that I could use to relieve this symptom. Most likely I would start with freshly made elderberry juice infused with echinacea (at minimum), whole food vitamin C, and dandelion root tea. If after a day or two I don’t see any improvement, then I know it’s time to move to something else. Depending on the changes that happen, I may add eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil in steam or a water diffuser to clear congestion in the chest. Etc…
See how that works?
In fact, I’ve had faster recovery from colds by using both oils and herbs together because they seem to work synergistically.
We make a lot of our own skincare right now, and I DO NOT use essential oils in my skincare products UNLESS I have an issue that needs treatment. Essential oils are very powerful, and they change the skin. I only use them if someone had a yeast spot or fungal issue on the skin. Otherwise, we keep skincare simple and clear.
If you’ve felt frustrated with your results using either herbs or essential oils standing alone, it might be time to use the whole plant and complete the big picture! For me, that meant adding essential oils because I was already using herbs.
My favorite herbal education right now is from Evolutionary Herbalism. You can find a basic, but very in-depth course here: https://www.evolutionaryherbalism.com/mmm-free-issue/
ISSA FT, HTMA
Wow. Great post Kayla, thanks! The whole natural remedies thing has always seemed like a good idea but way too involved. You explained the difference between herbs and essential oils so simply! At this point my cupboard probably has a few more conventional remedies than natural ones… but that is slowly changing. 🙂